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Full text of "The college Chaucer. Edited by Henry Noble MacCracken; the glossary in collaboration with Thomas Goddard Wright"

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President of Vassar College, formerly 

Assistant Professor of English in the Sheffield 

Scientific School of Yale University 

[The Glossary in collaboration with Thomas Goddard Wright, Ph. D., 
late Instructor in English in Sheffield Scientific School] 





First published, September, 1913 

Second printing, July, 1915 
Third printing, February, 1918 

Fourth printing, July, 1920 

Fifth printing, December, 1924 

Sixth printing, October, 1926 

Seventh printing, August, 1929 

Printed in the United States of America 


THE COLLEGE CHAUCER aims to provide, with due regard 
to the moderate size, attractive page, and readable print 
required in a modern textbook, as much of Chaucer as can 
be given in a single volume. The teacher will find, no 
doubt, more than he will choose to read with his class in 
any one year; but he may welcome the opportunity offered 
here of varying his course from year to year without change 
of text, and the possibilities presented of full cross- 
reference and helpful "outside" readings. 

In this endeavor to give Chaucer in extenso, the editorial 
apparatus has been compressed within the smallest possible 
compass, while a glossary of greater than average fullness 
supplies the place of the usual notes. The Appendix con 
tains only such additional matter as the beginner absolutely 
needs before attempting to read Middle English. 

There is very general agreement among teachers that the 
student learns most by approaching Chaucer, not through 
a text normalized and corrected on an editorial theory as 
to standard mediaeval spelling, but directly through the 
actual forms of the early and authoritative manuscripts. 
The one danger in this plan, of confusion in morphology 
and pronunciation, is greatly lessened in this edition by 
etymologies given in the glossary, which supply source- 
materials for correction of manuscript peculiarities. On the 
other hand, the student has not been relieved of his proper 
labor, by any device of friendly dots or italics. Footnotes 
are reserved for the indication of necessary variation from 
manuscript readings. 

The editor gratefully thanks Professor W. W. Lawrence 
of Columbia University for his proposal of the plan fol- 


lowed in this volume, and for his kindness in reading a part 
of the proof. Mr. T. G. Wright's collaboration has been 
of great assistance, not only in the glossarial labor, but in 
numerous suggestions elsewhere. 

New Haven, 
May, 1912 


The Canterbury Tales. [From the Ellesmere MS.] 


GROUP A 1-98 


The Knyghtes Tale 
Prologue to the Milleres Tale 
Prologue to the Reves Tale 
Prologue to the Cokes Tale 

GROUP B . . . . . . 99-206 

Prologue of the Man of Lawe 
The Tale of the Man of Lawe 
Prologue to the Shipmannes Tale 


The Prioresses Tale 

Prologue to Chaucer's Tale of Sir Thopas 
The Tale of Sir Thopas 


Prologue to the Monkes Tale 
The Monkes Tale 

Prologue to the Nonnes Preestes Tale 
The Nonnes Preestes Tale 

GROUP C . 207-236 

The Phisiciens Tale 


The Pardoners Prologue 
The Pardoners Tale 

GROUP D . . , .... 237-274 

The Prologue of the Wyves Tale of Bath 
The Tale of the Wyf of Bath 
Prologue to the Freres Tale 



GROUP E . .... 275-317 

Prologue to the Clerkes Tale 
The Clerkes Tale 


Prologue to the Merchantes Tale 

GROUP F ..... 318-367 

Prologue to the Squieres Tale 
The Squieres Tale 
Prologue to the Frankeleyns Tale 
The Frankeleyns Tale 

GROUP G 368-391 

The Second Nonnes Tale 

Prologue to the Chanouns Yemannes Tale 

GROUP H 392-403 

Prologue to the Maunciples Tale 
The Maunciples Tale 

GROUP I 404-408 

Prologue to the Persouns Tale 
Chaucer's "Retractation" 

MINOR POEMS 409-567 

The Compleynt to Pite. [From MS. Bodley Fairfax 


The Booke of the Duchesse. [From the same.] 
The Complaynt of Mars. [From the same.] 
The Parlement of Foules. [From MS. Gg. 4. 27, in the 

University Library, Cambridge.] 
The Legend of Good Women. [A-version, from MS. 

Gg. 4. 27; B-version, from MS. Fairfax 16.] 
A Compleint to his Lady. [From MS. Phillips 9053.] 


Anelyda and Arcite. [From MS. Harley 7333.] 

The Former Age. [From MS. li. 3. 21, in the Univ. 

Library, Cambridge.] 
Adam Scrivener. [From MS. Trinity College R. 3. 20, 


Fortune. [From MS. li. 3. 21, Cambridge.] 
Merciles Beaute. [From MS. Pepys 2006, Magdalene Col 
lege, Cambridge.] 

To Rosemounde. [From Bodley Rawlinson poetical 163.] 
Truth. [From MS. British Museum Addits. 10340.] 
Gentilesse. [From MS. Brit. Mus. Cotton Cleopatra D. 


Envoy to Scogan. [From MS. Univ. Camb. Gg. 4. 27.] 
Lak of Stedfastnesse. [From Bodley Hatton 73.] c -^ 
Envoy de Chaucer a Bukton. [From Bodley Fairfax 16.] 
The Compleynt of Venus. [From MS. Trin. Coll. Camb. 

R. 3. 20.] 

The Complaynt of Chaucer to his Purse. [From MS. Fair 
fax 16.] 5^3 

Proverbs. [From B. M. Addits. 16165.] 
Wommanly Noblesse. [From MS. B. M. Addits. 34360.] 
Against Women Inconstant. [From MS. Brit. Mus. Cotton 
Cleopatra D. VII.] 


APPENDIX ....... 573-602 

GLOSSARY . . . 605-713 





Here bygynneth the Book of the tales of Caunterbury. 

Whan that Aprille, with hise shoures soote, 

The droghte of March hath perced to the roote 

And bathed every veyne in swich licour, 

Of which vertu engendred is the flour; 

Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth 5 

Inspired hath in every holt and heeth 

The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne 

Hath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne, 

And smale foweles maken melodye, 

That slepen al the nyght with open eye 10 

So priketh hem Nature in hir corages 

Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages 

And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes 

To feme halwes, kowthe in sondry londes ; 

And specially, from every shires ende 15 

Of Engelond, to Caunturbury they wende, 

The hooly blisful martir for to seke 

That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seeke. 

Bifil that in that seson, on a day, 

In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay, 20 

Redy to wenden on my pilgrymage 
To Caunterbury, with ful devout corage, 
At nyght were come into that hostelrye 
Wei nyne and twenty in a compaignye 
Of sondry folk, by aventure yfalle 25 

8 half. 


In felaweshipe, and pilgrimes were they alle, 
That toward Caunterbury wolden ryde. 
The chambres and the stables weren wyde, 
And wel we weren esed atte beste ; 
And shortly, whan the sonne was to reste, 
So hadde I spoken with hem everychon 
That I was of hir felaweshipe anon, 
And made forward erly for to ryse 
To take our wey, ther as I yow devyse. 

But nathelees, whil I have tyme and space, 
Er that I ferther in this tale pace, 
Me thynketh it acordaunt to resoun 
To telle yow al the condicioun 
Of ech of hem, so as it semed me, 
And whiche they weren, and of what degree, 
And eek in what array that they were inne ; 
And at a knyght than wol I first bigynne. 

A knyght ther was, and that a worthy man, 
That fro the tyme that he first bigan 
To riden out, he loved chivalrie, 
Trouthe and honour, fredom and curteisie. 
Ful worthy was he in his lordes werre, 
And therto hadde he riden, no man ferre, 
As wel in Cristendom. as in Hethenesse, 
And evere honoured for his worthynesse. 

At Alisaundre he was, whan it was wonne; 
Ful ofte tyme he hadde the bord bigonne 
Aboven alle nacions in Pruce; 
In Lettow hadde he reysed, and in Ruce, 
No cristen man so ofte of his degree. 
In Gernade at the seege eek hadde he be 
Of Algezir, and riden in Belmarye; 
At Lyeys was he, and at Satalye, 
Whan they were wonne ; and in the Grete See 
At many a noble arive hadde he be. 

40 were. 60 armee. 









At mortal batailles hadde he been fiftene, 

And foughten for oure feith at Tramyssene 

In lystes thries, and ay slayn his foo. 

This ilke worthy knyght hadde been also 

Somtyme with the lord of Palatye 65 

Agayn another hethen in Turkye, 

And everemoore he hadde a sovereyn prys. 

And though that he were worthy, he was wys, 

And of his port as meeke as is a mayde ; 

He nevere yet no vileynye ne sayde 70 

In al his lyf unto no maner wight ; 

He was a verray parfit gentil knyght. 

But for to tellen yow of his array, 
His hors weren goode, but he was nat gay. 
Of fustian he wered a gypoun, 75 

Al bismotered with his habergeoun; 
For he was late ycome from his viage, 
And wente for to doon his pilgrymage. 

With hym ther was his sone, a yong Squier, Squier 

A lovyere and a lusty bacheler, 80 

With lokkes crulle, as they were leyd in presse. 
Of twenty yeer of age he was, I gesse. 
Of his stature he was of evene lengthe, 
And wonderly delyvere, and of greet strengthe. 
And he hadde been somtyme in chyvachie 85 

In Flaundres, in Artoys, and Pycardie, 
And born hym weel, as of so litel space, 
In hope to stonden in his lady grace. 
Embrouded was he, as it were a meede, 

Al ful of fresshe floures whyte and reede; 90 

Syngynge he was, or floytynge, al the day, 
He was as fressh as is the monthe of May. 
Short was his gowne, with sieves longe and wyde. 
Wei koude he sitte on hors, and f aire ryde, 
He koude songes make, and wel endite, 95 

Juste, and eek daunce, and weel purtreye and write. 


So hoote he lovede, that by nyghtertale 
He slepte namoore than dooth a nyghtyngale. 
Curteis he was, lowely, and servysable, 
And carf biforn his fader at the table. 

A Yeman hadde he, and servantz namo 
At that tyme, for hym liste ride soo ; 
And he was clad in cote and hood of grene, 
A sheef of pecok arwes bright and kene 
Under his belt he bar ful thriftily 
Wei koude he dresse his takel yemanly, 
Hise arwes drouped noght with fetheres lowe 
And in his hand he baar a myghty bowe. 
A not-heed hadde he, with a broun visage, 
Of woodecraft wel koude he al the usage. 
Upon his arm he baar a gay bracer, 
And by his syde a swerd and a bokeler, 
And on that oother syde a gay daggere, 
Harneised wel, and sharpe as point of spere. 
A Cristophere on his brest of silver sheene, 
An horn he bar, the bawdryk was of grene. 
A Forster was he, soothly, as I gesse. 

Ther was also a Nonne, a Prioresse, 
That of hir smylyng was ful symple and coy. 
Hir gretteste ooth was but by Seinte Loy, 
And she was cleped Madame Eglentyne. 
Ful weel she soong the service dyvvne, 
Entuned in hir nose ful semely ; 
And Frenssh she spak ful faire and fetisly 
After the scole of Stratford-atte-Bowe, 
For Frenssh of Parys was to hir unknowe. 
At mete wel ytaught was she withalle ; 
She leet no morsel from hir lippes falle, 
Ne wette hir fyngres in hir sauce depe. 
Wel koude she carie a morsel, and wel kepe 
That no drope ne fille upon hir brist. 
120 seint. . 123 semeely. 









In curteisie was set f ul muche hir list ; 

Hire over-lippe wyped she so clene, 

That in hir coppe ther was no ferthyng sene 

Of grece, whan she dronken hadde hir draughte. 135 

Fill semely after hir mete she raughte; 

And sikerly, she was of greet desport, 

And ful plesaunt, and amyable of port, 

And peyned hir to countrefete cheere 

Of court, and been estatlich of manere, 140 

And to ben holden digne of reverence. 

But for to speken of hir conscience, 

She was so charitable and so pitous, 

She wolde wepe, if that she saugh a mous 

Kaught in a trappe, if it were deed or bledde. 145 

Of smale houndes hadde she, that she fedde 

With rested flessh, or milk and wastel-breed. 

But soore weep she if oon of hem were deed, 

Or if men smoot it with a yerde smerte ; 

And al was conscience, and tendre herte. 15k 

Ful semyly hir wympul pynched was, 

Hire nose tretys, hir eyen greye as glas, 

Hir mouth ful smal, and therto softe and reed; 

But sikerly, she hadde a fair forheed, 

It was almoost a spanne brood, I trowe, 155 

For, hardily, she was nat undergrowe. 

Ful fetys was hir cloke, as I was war; 

Of smal coral aboute hir arm she bar 

A peire of bedes, gauded al with grene, 

And theron heng a brooch of gold ful sheene, 160 

On which ther was first write a crowned 'A,' 

And after, 'Amor vincit omnia/ 

Another Nonne with hir hadde she, Nonne & .iij. preestes 

That was hire Chapeleyne, and preestes thre. 

A Monk ther was, a fair for the maistrie, Monk 165 
An outridere, that lovede venerie, 

132 muchel. HO and to. 148 wepte; oon any. 


A manly man, to been an abbot able. 
Ful many a deyntee hors hadde he in stable ; 
And whan he rood, men myghte his brydel heere 
Gynglen in a whistlynge wynd als cleere, 170 

And eek as loude, as dooth the chapel belle, 
Ther as this lord was keper of the celle. 
The reule of Seint Maure, or of Seint Beneit, 
Bycause that it was old and somdel streit 
This ilke Monk leet olde thynges pace, 175 

And heeld after the newe world the space. 
He yaf nat of that text a pulled hen, 
That seith that hunters beth nat hooly men, 
Ne that a monk, whan he is recchelees, 

Is likned til a fissh that is waterlees 180 

This is to seyn, a monk out of his cloystre 
But thilke text heeld he nat worth an oystre ! 
And I seyde his opinioun was good, 
What sholde he studie, and make hymselven wood, 
Upon a book in cloystre alwey to poure, 185 

Or swynken with his handes and laboure 
As Austyn bit? How shal the world be served? 
Lat Austyn have his swynk to him reserved; 
Therfore he was a prikasour aright, 

Grehoundes he hadde, as swift as fowel in flight; 190 

Of prikyng and of huntyng for the hare 
Was al his lust, for no cost wolde he spare. 
I seigh his sieves ypurfiled at the hond 
With grys, and that the fyneste of a lond; 
And for to festne his hood under his chyn 195 

He hadde of gold ywroght a curious pyn ; 
A love-knotte in the gretter ende ther was. 
His heed was balled, that shoon as any glas, 
And eek his face, as it hadde been enoynt. 
He was a lord ful fat and in good poynt, 200 

Hise eyen stepe, and rollynge in his heed, 
188 his owene. 196 a ful. 


That stemed as a forneys of a leed; 

His bootes souple, his hors in greet estaat; 

Now certeinly he was a fair prelaat ! 

He was nat pale as a forpyned goost, 20.5 

A fat swan loved he best of any roost. 

His palfrey was as broun as is a berye. 

A Frere ther was, a wantowne and a merye, Frere 

A lymytour, a ful solempne man, 

In alle the ordres" foure is noon that kan 210 

So muchel of daliaunce and fair langage. 
He hadde maad ful many a mariage 
Of yonge wommen at his owene cost. 
Unto his ordre he was a noble post, 

And wel biloved and famulier was he 215 

With frankeleyns overal in his contree 
And eek with worthy wommen of the toun, 
For he hadde power of confessioun, 
As seyde hymself, moore than a curat, 

For of his ordre he was licenciat. 220 

Ful swetely herde he confessioun, 
And plesaunt was his absolucioun, 
He was an esy man to yeve penaunce 
Ther as he wiste to have a good pitaunce; 
For unto a povre ordre for to yive 225 

Is signe that a man is wel yshry ve ; 
For, if he yaf, he dorste make avaunt, 
He wiste that a man was repentaunt. 
For many a man so harde is of his herte, 
He may nat wepe, al thogh hym soore smerte; 230 

Therfore, in stede of wepynge and preyeres, 
Men moote yeve silver to the povre freres. 
His typet was ay farsed ful of knyves 
And pynnes, for to yeven yonge wyves. 
And certeinly he hadde a murye note, 235 

Wel koude he synge, and pleyen on a rote, 
Of yeddynges he baar outrely the pris. 


His nekke whit was as the flour delys ; 

Therto he strong was as a champioun, 

He knew the tavernes wel in every toun 240 

And everich hostiler and tappestere 

Bet than a lazar or a beggestere. 

For unto swich a worthy man as he 

Acorded nat, as by his facultee, 

To have with sike lazars aqueyntaunce ; 245 

It is nat honeste, it may nat avaunce, 

For to deelen with no swich poraille, 

But al with riche and selleres of vitaille; 

And overal^ ther as profit sholde arise, 

Curteis he was, and lowely of servyse. 250 

Ther nas no man nowher so vertuous ; 

He was the beste beggere in his hous, 

(And yaf a certeyn ferme for the graunt 252 b 

Noon of his brethren cam ther in his haunt;) 252 c 

For thogh a wydwe hadde noght a sho, 

So plesaunt was his 'In principio' 

Yet wolde he have a ferthyng er he wente; 255 

His purchas was wel bettre than his rente. 

And rage he koude, as it were right a whelpe ; 

In love-dayes ther koude he muchel helpe; 

For there he was nat lyk a cloysterer, 

With a thredbare cope, as is a povre scoler, 260 

But he was lyk a maister or a pope ; 

Of double worstede was his semycope, 

That rounded as a belle out of the presse. 

Somwhat he lipsed for his wantownesse 

To make his Englissh sweete upon his tonge, 265 

And in his harpyng, whan that he hadde songe, 

Hise eyen twynkled in his heed aryght 

As doon the sterres in the frosty nyght. 

This worthy lymytour was cleped Huberd. 

A Marchant was ther, with a forked berd, Marchaunt 270 

240 every al the. Lines 252 b, c om. 259 cloystrer. 


In mottelee, and hye on horse he sat, 

Upon his heed a Flaundryssh bevere hat, 

His bootes clasped faire and fetisly. 

Hise resons he spak ful solempnely, 

Sownynge alway thencrees of his wynnyng. 275 

He wolde the see were kept for any thyng 

Bitwixe Middelburgh and Orewelle. 

Wei koude he in eschaunge sheeldes selle. 

This worthy man ful wel his wit bisette ; 

Ther wiste no wight that he was in dette, 280 

So estatly was he of his governaunce, 

With his bargaynes and with his chevyssaunce. 

Forsothe, he was a worthy man with-alle, 

But, sooth to seyn, I noot how men hym calle. 

A Clerk ther was of Oxenford also, Clerk of Oxenford 285 
That unto logyk hadde longe ygo. 
As leene was his hors as is a rake, 
And he nas nat right fat, I undertake, 
But looked holwe and therto sobrely. 

Ful thredbare was his overeste courtepy, 290 

For he hadde geten hym yet no benefice, 
Ne was so worldly for to have office, 
For hym was levere have at his beddes heed 
Twenty bookes, clad in blak or reed, 

Of Aristotle and his philosophic, 295 

Than robes riche, or fithele, or gay sautrie. 
But al be that he was a philosophre, 
Yet hadde he but litel gold in cofre; 
But al that he myghte of his freendes hente, 
On bookes and his lernynge he it spente, 300 

And bisily gan for the soules preye 
Of hem that yaf hym wherwith to scoleye. 
Of studie took he moost cure and moost heede, 
Noght o word spak he moore than was neede, 
And that was seyd in forme and reverence, 305 

272 motlee. 287 As And. 


And short and quyk, and fill of hy sentence. 
Sownynge in moral vertu was his speche, 
And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche. 

A Sergeant of the Lawe, war and wys, Sergeant of lawe 

That often hadde been at the parvys, 310 

Ther was also, ful riche of excellence. 
Discreet he was, and of greet reverence, 
He semed swich, hise wordes weren so wise. 
Justice he was ful often in assise, 

By patente, and by pleyn commissioun. 315 

For his science, and for his heigh renoun, 
Of fees and robes hadde he many oon. 
So greet a purchasour was nowher noon, 
Al was fee symple to hym in effect, 

His purchasyng myghte nat been infect. 320 

Nowher so bisy a man as he ther nas, 
And yet he semed bisier than he was; 
In termes hadde he caas and doomes alle, 
That from the tyme of Kyng William were falle. 
Therto he koude endite, and make a thyng, 325 

Ther koude no wight pynche at his writyng. 
And every statut koude he pleyn by rote. 
He rood but hoomly in a medlee cote 
Girt with a ceint of silk, with barres smale ; 
Of his array telle I no lenger tale. 330 

A Frankeleyn was in his compaignye ; Frankeleyn 

Whit was his berd as is a dayesye. 
Of his complexioun he was sangwyn. 
Wei loved he by the morwe a sope in wyn, 
To lyven in delit was evere his wone; 335 

For he was Epicurus owene sone, 
That heeld opinioun that pleyn delit 
Was verraily felicitee parfit. 
An housholdere, and that a greet, was he ; 
Seint Julian was he in his contree. 340 

324 yfalle. 326 pynchen. 332 berd heed. 338 verray. 


His breed, his ale, was alweys after oon, 
A bettre envyned man was nowher noon. 
Withoute bake mete was nevere his hous, 
Of fissh and flessh, and that so plentevous, 
It snewed in his hous of mete and drynke, 
Of alle deyntees that men koude thynke. 
After the sondry sesons of the yeer 
So chaunged he his mete and his soper. 
Ful many a fat partrich hadde he in muwe, 
And many a breem and many a luce in stuwe. 
Wo was his cook, but if his sauce were 
Poynaunt, and sharp, and redy al his geere. 
His table dormant in his halle alway 
Stood redy covered al the longe day. 
At sessiouns ther was he lord and sire; 
Ful ofte tyme he was knyght of the shire. 
An anlaas and a gipser al of silk 
Heeng at his girdel, whit as morne milk. 
A shirreve hadde he been, and a countour, 
Was nowher swich a worthy vavasour. 

An Haberdasshere and a Carpenter, 
A Webbe, a Dyere, and a Tapycer 
And they were clothed alle in o lyveree 
Of a solempne and a greet fraternitee. 
Ful fressh and newe hir geere apiked was, 
Hir knyves were chaped noght with bras, 
But al with silver wroght ful clene and weel, 
Hir girdles and hir pouches everydeel. 
Wei semed ech of hem a fair burgeys 
To sitten in a yeldehalle on a deys. 
Everich for the wisdom that he kan 
Was shaply for to been an alderman; 
For catel hadde they ynogh, and rente, 
And eek hir wyves wolde it wel assente 
And elles, certeyn, were they to blame ! 

342 nowher nevere 














It is ful fair to been ycleped 'ma Dame/ t, 

And goon to vigilies al bifore, 
And have a mantel roialliche ybore. 

A Cook they hadde with hem for the nones, Cook 

To boille the chiknes with the marybones, 380 

And poudre-marchant tart, and galyngale. 
Wei koude he knowe a draughte of London ale; 
He koude rooste, and sethe, and broille, and frye, 
Maken mortreux, and wel bake a pye. 

But greet harm was it, as it thoughte me, 385 

That on his shyne a mormal hadde he! 
For blankmanger, that made he with the beste. 

A Shipman was ther, wonynge fer by weste; Shipman 

For aught I woot, he was of Dertemouthe. 
He rood upon a rouncy, as he kouthe, 390 

In a gowne of faldyng to the knee. 
A daggere hangynge on a laas hadde he 
Aboute his nekke, under his arm adoun. 
The hoote somer hadde maad his hewe al broun, 
And certeinly he was a good felawe. 395 

Ful many a draughte of wyn had he ydrawe 
Fro Burdeuxward, whil that the chapman sleep. 
Of nyce conscience took he no keep; 
If that he f aught, and hadde the hyer hond, 
By water he sente hem hoom to every lond. 400 

But of his craft, to rekene wel his tydes, 
His stremes, and his daungers hym bisides, 
His herberwe and his moone, his lodemenage, 
Ther nas noon swich from Hulle to Cartage. 
Hardy he was, and wys to undertake, 405 

With many a tempest hadde his berd been shake; 
He knew alle the havenes as they were 
From Gootlond to the Cape of Fynystere, 
And every cryke in Britaigne and in Spayne. 
His barge ycleped was the Maudelayne. 410 

38.3 boille. 396 drawe. 


With us ther was a Doctour of Phisik; Doctour of Phisik 
In al this world ne was ther noon hym lik, 
To speke of phisik and of surgerye; 
For he was grounded in astronomye. 

He kepte his pacient a ful greet deel 415 

In houres, by his magyk natureel. 
Wei koude he fortunen the ascendent 
Of hisc ymages for his pacient. 
He knew the cause of everich maladye, 

Were it of hoot or coold, or moyste, or drye, 420 

And where they engendred, and of what humour. 
He was a verray parfit praktisour ; 
The cause yknowe, and of his harm the roote, 
Anon he yaf the sike man his boote. 

Ful redy hadde he hise apothecaries 425 

To sende him drogges and his letuaries, 
For ech of hem made oother for to wynne, 
Hir frendshipe nas nat newe to bigynne. 
Wei knew he the olde Esculapius, 

And Deyscorides and eek Rufus, 430 

Olde Ypocras, Haly, and Galyen, 
Serapioun, Razis, and Avycen, 
Averrois, Damascien, and Constantyn, 
Bernard, and Gates den, and Gilbertyn. 

Of his diete mesurable was he, 435 

For it was of no superfluitee, 
But of greet norissyng, and digestible. 
His studie was but litel on the Bible. 
In sangwyn and in pers he clad was al, 

Lyned with taffata and with sendal 440 

And yet he was but esy of dispence ; 
He kepte that he wan in pestilence. 
For gold in phisik is a cordial, 
Therfore he lovede gold in special. 

A good wif was ther, of biside Bathe, ^ e deWitof 445 

480 Risus, 


But she was som-del deef, and that was scathe. 

Of clooth-makyng she hadde swich an haunt, 

She passed hem of Ypres and of Gaunt. 

In al the parisshe wif ne was ther noon 

That to the offrynge bifore hir sholde goon; 450 

And if ther dide, certeyn, so wrooth was she, 

That she was out of alle charitee. 

Hir coverchiefs ful fyne weren of ground, 

I dorste swere they weyeden ten pound 

That on a Sonday weren upon hir heed. 455 

Hir hosen weren of fyn scarlet reed, 

Ful streite yteyd, and shoes ful moyste and newe. 

Boold was hir face, and fair, and reed of hewe. 

She was a worthy womman al hir lyve, 

Housbondes at chirche-dore she hadde fyve 460 

Withouten oother compaignye in youthe 

Bud: therof nedeth nat to speke as nowthe. 

And thries hadde she been at Jerusalem, 

She hadde passed many a straunge strem, 

At Rome she hadde been, and at Boloigne, 465 

In Galice at Seint Jame, and at Coloigne, 

She koude muche of wandrynge by the weye. 

Gat-tothed was she, soothly for to seye. 

Upon an amblere esily she sat, 

Ywympled wel, and on hir heed an hat 470 

As brood as is a bokeler or a targe, 

A foot-mantel aboute hir hipes large, 

And on hire feet a paire of spores sharpe. 

In f elaweship wel koude she laughe and carpe ; 

Of remedies of love she knew per-chaunce, 475 

For she koude of that art the olde daunce. 

A good man was ther of religioun, 

And was a povre Persoun of a toun, Persounofatoun 

But riche he was of hooly thoght and werk. 
He was also a lerned man, a clerk 480 

That Cristes gospel trewely wolde preche. 


Hise parisshens devoutly wolde he teche, 

Benygne he was, and wonder diligent, 

And in adversitee ful pacient, 

And swich he was ypreved ofte sithes. 485 

Ful looth were hym to cursen for hise tithes, 

But rather wolde he yeven, out of doute, 

Unto his povre parisshens aboute 

Of his offryng and eek of his substaunce; 

He koude in litel thyng have suffisaunce. 490 

Wyd was his parisshe, and houses fer asonder, 

But he ne lafte nat, for reyn ne thonder. 

In siknesse nor in meschief, to visite 

The f erreste in his parisshe, muche and lite, 

Upon his feet, and in his hand a staf. 495 

This noble ensample to his sheep he yaf 

That firste he wroghte, and afterward he taughte 

Out of the Gospel he tho wordes caughte; 

And this figure he added eek therto, 

That if gold ruste, what shal iren do? 500 

For if a preest be foul, on whom we truste, 

No wonder is a lewed man to ruste, 

And shame it is, if a prest take keep, 

A shiten shepherde and a clene sheep ! 

Wei oghte a preest ensample for to yeve 505 

By his clennesse how that his sheep sholde lyve. 

He sette nat his benefice to hyre, 

And leet his sheep encombred in the myre, 

And ran to London, unto Seinte Poules, 

To seken hym a chauntery for soules, 510 

Or with a bretherhed to been withholde, 

But dwelte at hoom, and kepte wel his folde, 

So that the wolf ne made it nat myscarie. 

He was a shepherde, and noght a mercenarie ; 

And though he hooly were and vertuous, 515 

485 preved. 497 that he. 509 seint. 510 chauntrie. 512 dwelleth; 


He was to synful man nat despitous, 

Ne of his speche daungerous ne digne, 

But in his techyng discreet and benygne; 

To drawen folk to hevene by fairnesse, 

By good ensample, this was his bisynesse. 520 

But it were any persone obstinat, 

What so he were, of heigh or lough estat, 

Hym wolde he snybben sharply for the nonys. 

A bettre preest, I trowe, that nowher noon ys. 

He waited after no pompe and reverence, 525 

Ne maked him a spiced conscience, 

But Cristes loore, and Hise apostles twelve 

He taughte, but first he folwed it hym-selve. 

With hym ther was a Plowman, was his brother, Plowman 
That hadde ylad of dong ful many a fother. 5SC 

A trewe swynker and a good was he, 
Lyvynge in pees and parfit charitee. 
God loved he best with al his hoole herte 
At alle tymes, thogh him gamed or smerte, 
And thanne his neighebore right as hym-selve; 535 

He wolde thresshe, and therto dyke and delve, 
For Cristes sake, for every povre wight 
Withouten hire, if it lay in his myght. 
Hise tithes payed he ful faire and wel, 

Bothe of his propre swynk and his catel. 540 

In a tabard he rood, upon a mere. 

Ther was also a Reve and a Millere, Millere 

A Somnour and a Pardoner also, 
A Maunciple, and myself, ther were namo. 
The Millere was a stout carl for the nones, 545 

Ful byg he was of brawn and eek of bones 
That proved wel, for overal ther he cam 
At wrastlyng he wolde have alwey the ram. 
He was short-sholdred, brood, a thikke knarre, 
Ther was no dore that he nolde heve of harre, 550 

516 nat to synful. 525 waiteth. 534 he. 539 payde. 550 ne wolde, 


Or breke it at a rennyng with his heed. 

His herd as any sowe or fox was reed, 

And therto brood, as though it were a spade. 

Upon the cop right of his nose he hade 

A werte, and thereon stood a toft of heres 555 

Reed as the brustles of a sowes eres ; 

Hise nosethirles blake were and wyde. 

A swerd and bokeler bar he by his syde. 

His mouth as greet was as a greet forneys, 

He was a janglere and a goliardeys, 560 

And that was moost of synne and harlotries. 

Wei koude he stelen corn, and tollen thries, 

And yet he hadde a thombe of gold, pardee. 

A whit cote and a blew hood wered he. 

A baggepipe wel koude he blowe and sowne, 565 

And therwithal he broghte us out of towne. 

A gentil Maunciple was ther of a temple, Mauncipie 

Of which achatours myghte take exemple 

For to be wise in byynge of vitaille; 

For wheither that he payde or took by taille, 570 

Algate he wayted so in his achaat 

That he was ay biforn, and in good staat. 

Now is nat that of God a ful fair grace, 

That swich a lewed mannes wit shal pace 

The wisdom of an heep of lerned men? 575 

Of maistres hadde he mo than thries ten, 

That weren of lawe expert and curious, 

Of whiche ther weren a duszeyne in that hous 

Worthy to been stywardes of rente and lond 

Of any lord that is in Engelond, 580 

To maken hym lyve by his propre good, 

In honour dettelees, but if he were wood; 

Or lyve as scarsly as hym list desire, 

And able for to helpen al a shire 

In any caas that myghte falle or happe 585 

558 and a. 


And yet this manciple sette hir aller cappe ! 

The Reve was a sclendre colerik man; Reve 

His herd was shave as ny as ever he kan, 
His heer was by his erys ful round yshorn, 
His top was dokked lyk a preest biforn. 590 

Ful longe were his legges, and ful lene, 
Ylyk a staf, ther was no calf ysene. 
Wei koude he kepe a gerner and a bynne, 
Ther was noon auditour koude on him wynne. 
Wei wiste he, by the droghte, and by the reyn, 595 

The yeldynge of his seed and of his greyn. 
His lordes sheep, his neet, his dayerye, 
His swyn, his hors, his stoor, and his pultrye, 
Was hooly in this reves governyng 

And by his covenant yaf the rekenyng, 600 

Syn that his lord was twenty yeer of age ; 
Ther koude no man brynge hym in arrerage. 
Ther nas baillif, ne hierde, nor oother hyne, 
That he ne knew his sleighte and his covyne, 
They were adrad of hym as of the deeth. 605 

His wonyng was ful faire upon an heeth, 
With grene trees shadwed was his place. 
He koude bettre than his lord purchace. 
Ful riche he was astored pryvely; 

His lord wel koude he plesen subtilly 610 

To yeve and lene hym of his owene good, 
And have a thank, and yet a cote and hood. 
In youthe he hadde lerned a good myster, 
He was a wel good wrighte, a carpenter. 
This reve sat upon a ful good stot, 615 

That was al pomely grey, and highte Scot. 
A long surcote of pers upon he hnrle. 
And by his syde he baar a rusty blade. 
Of Northfolk was this reve, of which I telle, 
Bisyde a toun men clepen Baldeswelle. 620 

590 doked. 594 on of. 604 ne om. 612 cote gowne. 


Tukked he was, as is a frere, aboute, 

And evere he rood the hyndreste of oure route. 

A Somonour was ther with us in that place, Somonour 

That hadde a fyr-reed cherubynnes face, 
For sawcefleem he was, with eyen narwe. 625 

As hoot he was, and lecherous, as a sparwe, 
With scalled browes blake, and piled berd, 
Of his visage children were aferd. 
Ther nas quyk-silver, lytarge, ne brymstoon, 
Boras, ceruce, ne oille of tartre noon, 630 

Ne oynement, that wolde dense and byte, 
That hym myghte helpen of his whelkes white, 
Nor of the knobbes sittynge on his chekes. 
Wei loved he garleek, oynons, and eek lekes, 
And for to drynken strong wyn, reed as blood; 635 

Thanne wolde he speke and crie as he were wood. 
And whan that he wel dronken hadde the wyn, 
Than wolde he speke no word but Latyn. 
A fewe termes hadde he, two or thre, 

That he had lerned out of som decree 640 

No wonder is, he herde it al the day, 
And eek ye knowen wel how that a jay 
Kan clepen 'watte' as wel as kan the Pope. 
But who so koude in oother thyng hym grope, 
Thanne hadde he spent al his philosophic ; 645 

Ay 'questio quid juris' wolde he crie. 
He was a gentil harlot and a kynde, 
A bettre felawe sholde men noght fynde; 
He wolde suffre, for a quart of wyn, 

A good felawe to have his concubyn 650 

A twelf-monthe, and excuse hym atte fulle 
Ful prively a fynch eek koude he pulle. 
And if he foond owher a good felawe, 
He wolde techen him to have noon awe, 
In swich caas, of the erchedekenes curs, 655 

627 scaled. 632 his the. 


But if a mannes soule were in his purs ; 

For in his purs he sholde ypunysshed be, 

'Purs is the erchedekenes helle,' seyde he. 

But wel I woot he lyed right in dede ; 

Of cursyng oghte ech gilty man him drede 660 

For curs wol slee, right as assoillyng savith 

And also war him of a Significavit. 

In daunger hadde he at his owene gise 

The yonge girles of the diocise, 

And knew hir conseil, and was al hir reed. 665 

A gerland hadde he set upon his heed 

As greet as it were for an ale-stake; 

A bokeleer hadde he maad him of a cake. 

With hym ther rood a gentil Pardoner Pardoner 

Of Rouncivale, his freend and his compeer,, 670 

That streight was comen fro the court of Rome. 
Ful loude he soong 'com hider, love, to me.' 
This Somonour bar to hym a stif burdoun, 
Was nevere trompe of half so greet a soun. 
This Pardoner hadde heer as yelow as wex, 675 

But smothe it heeng as dooth a strike of flex; 
By ounces henge hise lokkes that he hadde, 
And therwith he hise shuldres overspradde ; 
But thynne it lay by colpons oon and oon. 
But hood, for jolitee, wered he noon, 680 

For it was trussed up in his walet. 
Hym thoughte he rood al of the newe jet, 
Dischevele, save his cappe, he rood al bare. 
Swiche glarynge eyen hadde he as an hare. 
A vernycle hadde he sowed upon his cappe. 685 

His walet lay biforn hym in his lappe 
Bret-ful of pardoun come from Rome al hoot. 
A voys he hadde as smal as hath a goot, 
No berd hadde he, ne nevere sholde have, 
As smothe it was as it were late shave, 690 

660 him om. 669 rood was. 683 disc-he velee. 686 lay om. 


I trowe he were a geldyng or a mare. 

But of his craft, fro Berwyk into Ware, 

Ne was ther swich another Pardoner ; 

For in his male he hadde a pilwe-beer, 

Which that he seyde was Oure Lady veyl ; 695 

He seyde, he hadde a gobet of the seyl 

That Seinte Peter hadde, whan that he wente 

Upon the see, til Jesu Crist hym hente. 

He hadde a croys of latoun, ful of stones, 

And in a glas he hadde pigges bones; 700 

But with thise relikes whan that he fond 

A povre persoun dwellyng up-on-lond, 

Upon a day he gat hym moore moneye 

Than that the person gat in monthes tweye, 

And thus with feyned flaterye and japes 705 

He made the persoun and the peple his apes. 

But trewely to tellen atte laste, 

He was in chirche a noble ecclesiaste; 

Wei koude he rede a lessoun or a storie, 

But alderbest he song an offertorie, 710 

For wel he wiste, whan that song was songe 

He moste preche, and wel anile his tonge; 

To wynne silver, as he ful wel koude, 

Therfore he song the murierly and loude. 

Now have I toold you shortly in a clause 715 

Thestaat, tharray, the nombre, and eek the cause 
Why that assembled was this compaignye 
In Southwerk, at this gentil hostelrye, 
That highte the Tabard, faste by the Belle. 
But now is tyme to yow for to telle 720 

How that we baren us that ilke nyght 
Whan we were in that hostelrie alyght, 
And after wol I telle of our viage, 
And al the remenaunt of oure pilgrimage. 
But first I pray yow, of youre curteisye, 725 

697 seint. 718 at as. 


That ye narette it nat my vileynye, 

Thogh that I pleynly speke in this mateere 

To telle yow hir wordes and hir cheere, 

Ne thogh I speke hir wordes proprely. 

For this ye knowen also wel as I, 730 

Who-so shal telle a tale after a man, 

He moot reherce as ny as evere he kan 

Everich a word, if it be in his charge, 

Al speke he never so rudeliche or large ; 

Or ellis he moot telle his tale untrewe, 735 

Or feyne thyng, or fynde wordes newe. 

He may nat spare, al thogh he were his brother, 

He moot as wel seye o word as another. 

Crist spak hym-self ful brode in Hooly Writ, 

And, wel ye woot, no vileynye is it. 740 

Eek Plato seith, who so kan hym rede, 

The wordes moote be cosyn to the dede. 

Also I prey yow to foryeve it me, 

Al have I nat set folk in hir degree 

Heere in this tale, as that they sholde stonde 745 

My wit is short, ye may wel understonde. 

Greet chiere made oure hoost us everichon, 

And to the soper sette he us anon. 

He served us with vitaille at the beste ; 

Strong was the wyn, and wel to drynke us leste. 750 

A semely man oure Hooste was withalle 

For to been a marchal in an halle. 

A large man he was, with eyen stepe, 

A fairer burgeys was ther noon in Chepe; 

Boold of his speche, and wys, and well ytaught, 755 

And of manhod hym lakkede right naught. 

Eek therto he was right a myrie man; 

And after soper pleyen he bigan, 

And spak of myrthe amonges othere thynges, 

Whan that we hadde maad our rekenynges, 760 

749 He And. 751 hoost. 756 lakked. 


And seyde thus : "Now lordynges, trewely, 

Ye been to me right welcome hertely, 

For by my trouthe, if that I shal nat lye, 

I saugh nat this yeer so myrie a compaignye 

Atones in this herberwe, as is now. 765 

Fayn wolde I doon yow myrthe, wiste I how 

And of a myrthe I am right now bythoght 

To doon yow ese, and it shal coste noght. 

Ye goon to Caunterbury, God yow speede 

The blisful martir quite yow youre meede 770 

And wel I woot, as ye goon by the weye, 

Ye shapen yow to talen and to pleye, 

For trewely, confort ne myrthe is noon 

To ride by the weye doumb as stoon, 

And therfore wol I maken yow disport, 775 

As I seyde erst, and doon yow som confort; 

And if yow liketh alle by oon assent 

For to stonden at my juggement, 

And for to werken as I shal yow seye, 

To-morwe, whan ye riden by the weye, 780 

Now, by my fader soule that is deed, 

But ye be myrie I wol yeve yow myn heed ! 

Hoold up youre hond, withouten moore speche." 

Oure conseil was nat longe for to seche 

Us thoughte it was noght worth to make it wys 785 

And graunted hym, withouten moore avys, 

And bad him seye his voirdit, as hym leste. 

"Lordynges," quod he, "now herkneth for the beste, 

But taak it nought, I prey yow, in desdeyn. 

This is the poynt, to speken short and pleyn, 790 

That ech of yow, to shorte with oure weye, 

In this viage shal telle tales tweye, 

To Caunterburyward I mene it so, 

And homward he shal tellen othere two, 

Of aventures that whilom han bifalle. 795 

774 as the. 782 But if- 


And which of yow that bereth hym best of alle 

That is to seyn, that telleth in this caas 

Tales of best sentence and moost solaas 

Shal have a soper at oure aller cost, 

Heere in this place, sittynge by this post, 800 

Whan that we come agayn fro Caunterbury. 

And for to make yow the moore mury 

I wol my-selven goodly with yow ryde 

Right at myn owene cost, and be youre gyde. 

And who so wole my juggement withseye 805 

Shal paye al that we spenden by the weye. 

And if ye vouchesauf that it be so, 

Tel me anon, withouten wordes mo, 

And I wol erly shape me therfore." 

This thyng was graunted, and oure othes swore 810 

With ful glad herte, and preyden hym also 

That he wolde vouchesauf for to do so, 

And that he wolde been oure governour, 

And of our tales juge and reportour, 

And sette a soper at a certeyn pris, 815 

And we wol reuled been at his devys 

In heigh and lough ; and thus by oon assent 

We been acorded to his juggement; 

And therupon the wyn was fet anon, 

We dronken, and to reste wente echon 820 

Withouten any lenger taryynge. 

Amorwe, whan that day bigan to sprynge, 
Up roos oure Hoost, and was oure aller cok, 
And gadrede us togidre, alle in a flok, 

And forth we riden, a litel moore than paas, 825 

Unto the wateryng of Seint Thomas. 
And there oure Hoost bigan his hors areste, 
And seyde, "Lordynges, herkneth if yow leste, 
Ye woot youre fore ward, and I it yow recorde; 
If even-song and morwe-song accorde, 830 

822 gan. 829 lorn. 


Lat se now who shal telle the firste tale. 

As evere mote I drynke wyn or ale, 

Whoso be rebel to my juggement 

Shal paye for al that by the wey is spent. 

Now draweth cut, er that we ferrer twynne, 835 

He which that hath the shorteste shal bigynne. 

Sire knyght," quod he, "my mayster and my lord, 

Now draweth cut, for that is myn accord, 

Cometh neer," quod he, "my lady Prioresse, 

And ye, Sir Clerk, lat be your shamefastnesse, 840 

Ne studieth noght; ley hond to, every man." 

Anon to drawen every wight bigan, 

And shortly for to tellen as it was, 

Were it by aventure, or sort, or cas, 

The sothe is this, the cut fil to the knyght, . 845 

Of which ful blithe and glad was every wyght. 

And telle he moste his tale, as was resoun, 

By foreward and by composicioun, 

As ye han herd, what nedeth wordes mo ? 

And whan this goode man saugh that it was so, 850 

As he that wys was and obedient 

To kepe his foreward by his free assent, 

He seyde, "Syn I shal bigynne the game, 

What, welcome be the cut, a Goddes name ! 

Now lat us ryde, and herkneth what I seye." 855 

And with that word we ryden forth oure weye, 
And he bigan with right a myrie cheere 
His tale anon, and seyde in this manere. 

850 An. 


lamque domos patrias Scithice post aspera geniis pretia 
laurigero $c. Thebdid, xii, 519. 

Heere bigynneth the knyghtes tale. 

Whilom, as olde stories tellen us, 

Ther was a due that highte Theseus ; 860 

Of Atthenes he was lord and governour, 
And in his tyme swich a conquerour, 
That gretter was ther noon under the sonne. 
Ful many a riche contree hadde he wonne, 
What with his wysdom and his chivalrie ; 865 

He conquered al the regne of Femenye, 
That whilom was ycleped Scithia, 
And weddede the queene Ypolita, 
And broghte hir hoom with hym in his contree, 
With muchel glorie and greet solempnytee, 870 

And eek hir yonge suster Emelye. 
And thus with victorie and with melodye 
Lete I this noble duk to Atthenes ryde, 
And al his hoost, in armes hym bisyde. 

And certes, if it nere to long to heere, 875 

I wolde have toold yow fully the manere 
How wonnen was the regne of Femenye 
By Theseus, and by his chivalry e, 
And of the grete bataille for the nones 

Bitwixen Atthenes and Amazones, 880 

And how asseged was Ypolita 
The faire hardy queene of Scithia, 
And of the feste that was at hir weddynge, 
And of the tempest at hir hoom-comynge ; 
But al that thyng I moot as now forbere, 885 

868 wedded. 871 yonge faire. 876 yow have told. 


I have, God woot, a large feeld to ere, 
And wayke been the oxen in my plough, 
The remenant of the tale is long ynough. 
I wol nat letten eek noon of this route, 

Lat every felawe telle his tale aboute, 890 

And lat se now who shal the soper wynne; 
And ther I lefte, I wol ayeyn bigynne. 
This due of whom I make mencioun, 
Whan he was come almoost unto the toun, 
In al his wele and in his mooste pride, 895 

He was war, as he caste his eye aside, 
Where that ther kneled in the hye weye 
A compaignye of ladyes, tweye and tweye, 
Ech after oother, clad in clothes blake; 

But swich a cry and swich a wo they make, 900 

That in this world nys creature lyvynge 
That herde swich another waymentynge! 
And of this cry they nolde nevere stenten, 
Til they the reynes of his brydel henten. 
"What folk been ye, that at myn hom-comynge 905 

Perturben so my feste with criynge?" 
Quod Theseus, "have ye so greet envye 
Of myn honour, that thus compleyne and crye? 
Or who hath yow mysboden or offended? 
And telleth me if it may been amended, 910 

And why that ye been clothed thus in blak?" 
The eldeste lady of hem alle spak 
Whan she hadde swowned with a deedly cheere, 
That it was routhe for to seen and heere 
And seyde, "Lord, to whom Fortune hath yeven 915 

Victorie, and as a conqueror to lyven, 
Nat greveth us youre glorie and youre honour, 
But we biseken mercy and socour. 
Have mercy on oure wo and oure distresse, 
Som drope of pitee thurgh thy gentillesse 

897 hye om. 


Upon us wrecched wommen lat thou falle; 

For certes, lord, ther is noon of us alle 

That she ne hath been a duchesse or a queene. 

Now be we caytyves, as it is wel scene 

Thanked be Fortune, and hir false wheel, 925 

That noon estat assureth to be weel. 

And certes, lord, to abyden youre presence, 

Heere in the temple of the goddesse Clemence 

We han ben waitynge al this f ourtenyght ; 

Now help us, lord, sith it is in thy myght ! 930 

I wrecche, which that wepe and waille thus, 

Was whilom wyf to kyng Cappaneus, 

That starf at Thebes, cursed be that day ! 

And alle we that been in this array 

And maken al this lamentacioun, 935 

We losten alle oure housbondes at that toun, 

Whil that the seege theraboute lay. 

And yet now the olde Creon, weylaway ! 

That lord is now of Thebes the Citee, 

Fulfild of ire and of iniquitee, 9^0 

He, for despit and for his tirannye, 

To do the dede bodyes vileynye, 

Of alle oure lordes, whiche that been slawe, 

He hath alle the bodyes on an heep ydrawe, 

And wol nat suffren hem, by noon assent, 945 

Neither to been yburyed nor ybrent, 

But maketh houndes etc hem in despit." 

And with that word, withouten moore respit, 

They fillen gruf, and criden pitously, 

"Have on us wrecched wommen som mercy 950 

And lat oure sorwe synken in thyn herte." 

This gentil duk doun from his courser sterte 
With herte pitous, whan he herde hem speke ; 
Hym thoughte that his herte wolde breke, 
Whan he saugh hem so pitous and so maat, 955 

Q31 waille crie. 


That whilom weren of so greet estaat. 

And in his armes he hem alle up hente, 

And hem cbnforteth in ful good entente, 

And swoor his ooth, as he was trewe knyght, 

He wolde doon so ferforthly his myght 960 

Upon the tiraunt Creon hem to wreke, 

That all the peple of Grece sholde speke 

How Creon was of Theseus yserved, 

As he that hadde his deeth ful wel deserved. 

And right anoon, withouten moore abood, 965 

His baner he desplayeth, and forth rood 

To Thebes ward, and al his hoost biside, 

No neer Atthenes wolde he go ne ride, 

Ne take his ese fully half a day, 

But onward on his wey that nyght he lay 970 

And sente anon Ypolita the queene, 

And Emelye, hir yonge suster sheene, 

Unto the toun of Atthenes to dwelle 

And forth he rit ; ther is namoore to telle. 

The rede statue of Mars, with spere and targe, 975 

So shyneth, in his white baner large, 

That alle the f eeldes gliteren up and doun, 

And by his baner born is his penoun 

Of gold ful riche, in which ther was ybete 

The Mynotaur which that he slough in Crete. 980 

Thus rit this due, thus rit this conquerour, 

And in his hoost of chivalrie the flour, 

Til that he cam to Thebes, and alighte 

Faire in a feeld, ther as he thoughte fighte. 

But shortly for to speken of this thyng, 985 

With Creon, which that was of Thebes kyng, 

He faught, and slough hym manly as a knyght 

In pleyn bataille, and putte the folk to flyght, 

And by assaut he wan the citee after, 

And rente adoun bothe wall, and sparre, and rafter. 990 

And to the ladyes he restored agayn 


The bones of hir housbondes that weren slayn, 

To doon obsequies as was tho the gyse. 

But it were al to longe for to devyse 

The grete clamour and the waymentynge 995 

That the ladyes made at the brennynge 

Of the bodies, and the grete honour 

That Theseus, the noble conquerour, 

Dooth to the ladyes, whaii they from hym wente ; 

But shortly for to telle is myn entente. 1000 

Whan that this worthy due, this Theseus, 
Hath Creon slayn, and wonne Thebes thus, 
Stille in that feeld he took al nyght his reste 
And dide with al the contree as hym leste. 
To ransake in the taas of bodyes dede, 1005 

Hem for to strepe of harneys and of wede, 
The pilours diden bisynesse and cure, 
After the bataille and disconfiture ; 
And so bifel, that in the taas they founde 
Thurgh-girt with many a grevous blody wounde, 1010 

Two yonge knyghtes liggynge by and by, 
Bothe in oon armes wroght ful richely, 
Of whiche two Arcita highte that oon, 
And that oother knyght highte Palamon. 
Nat fully quyke, ne fully dede they were, 1015 

But by here cote-armures, and by hir gere, 
The heraudes knewe hem best, in special, 
As they that weren of the blood roial 
Of Thebes, and of sustren two yborn. 

Out of the taas the pilours han hem torn, 1020 

And han hem caried softe unto the tente 
Of Theseus, and he ful soone hem sente 
To Atthenes to dwellen in prisoun 
Perpetuelly, he nolde no raunsoun. 
And whan this worthy due hath thus ydon, 
He took his boost, and hoom he rood anon, 

1005 of the. 1022 he hem. 


With laurer crowned, as a conquerour, 

And ther he lyveth in joye and in honour 

Terme of his lyve, what nedeth wordes mo ? 

And in a tour, in angwissh and in wo, 1039 

Dwellen this Palamon and eek Arcite 

For evermoore, ther may no gold hem quite. 

This passeth yeer by yeer, and day by day, 
Till it fil ones, in a morwe of May, 

That Emelye, that fairer was to sene 1035 

Than is the lylie upon his stalke grene, 
And f ressher than the May with floures newe 
For with the rose colour stroof hir hewe, 
I noot which was the fairer of hem two 
Er it were day, as was hir wone to do, 1040 

She was arisen, and al redy dight 
For May wole have no slogardrie a-nyght; 
The sesoun priketh every gentil herte, 
And maketh hym out of his slepe to sterte, 
And seith, 'arys and do thyn observaunce/ 1045 

This maked Emelye have remembraunce 
To doon honour to May, and for to ryse. 
Yclothed was she fressh, for to devyse, 
Hir yelow heer was broyded in a tresse, 
Bihynde hir bak, a yerde long, I gesse, 1050 

And in the gardyn, at the sonne upriste, 
She walketh up and doun, and as hir liste 
She gadereth floures, party white and rede, 
To make a subtil gerland for hir hede, 

And as an aungel hevenysshly she soong. 1055 

The grete tour, that was so thikke and stroong, 
Which of the castel was the chief dongeoun, 
Ther as the knyghtes weren in prisoun, 
Of whiche I tolde yow, and tellen shal, 

Was evene joynant to the gardyn wal 1060 

Ther as this Emelye hadde hir pleyynge. 
1029 his om. 1031 Dwellen om.; eek his felawe. 1039 fyner. 



Bright was the sonne, and clcer that morwenynge, 

And Palamoun, this woful prisoner, 

As was his wone, by leve of his gayler, 

Was risen, and romed in a chambre on heigh, 1065 

In which he al the noble citee seigh, 

And eek the gardyn, ful of braunches grene, 

Ther as this fresshe Emelye the shene 

Was in hire walk, and romed up and doun. 

This sorweful prisoner, this Palamoun, 1070 

Goth in the chambre romynge to and fro, 

And to hym-self compleynynge of his wo. 

That he was born, ful ofte he seyde, 'alias !' 

And so bifel, by aventure or cas, 

That thurgh a wyndow, thikke of many a barre 1075 

Of iren greet, and square as any sparre, 

He cast his eye upon Emelya, 

And therwithal he bleynte, and cryede "A !" 

As though he stongen were unto the herte. 

And with that cry Arcite anon upsterte 1080 

And seyde, "Cosyn myn, what eyleth thee, 

That art so pale and deedly on to see? 

Why cridestow? who hath thee doon offence? 

For Goddess love, taak al in pacience 

Oure prisoun, for it may noon oother be; 1085 

Fortune hath yeven us this adversitee. 

Som wikke aspect or disposicioun 

Of Saturne by sum constellacioun 

Hath yeven us this, al though we hadde it sworn. 

So stood the hevene, whan that we were born. 1090 

We moste endure it, this the short and playn." 

This Palamon answerde and seyde agayn, 

"Cosyn, for sothe, of this opinioun 

Thow hast a veyn ymaginacioun. 

This prison caused me nat for to crye, 1095 

But I was hurt right now thurgh-out myn eye 

1068 And this. 1065 on an. 1078 cride. 



Into myn herte, that wol my bane be. 

The fairnesse of that lady, that I see 

Yond in the gardyn romen to and fro, 

Is cause of al my criyng and my wo. 1100 

I noot wher she be womman or goddesse, 

But Venus is it, soothly as I gesse." 

And therwithal, on knees doun he nl, 

And seyde, "Venus, if it be thy wil, 

Yow in this gardyn thus to transfigure 1105 

Bifore me, sorweful wrecche creature, 

Out of this prisoun helpe that we may scapen ! 

And if so be my destynee be shapen 

By eterne word to dyen in prisoun, 

Of oure lynage have som compassioun, 1110 

That is so lowe ybroght by tirannye." 

And with that word Arcite gan espye 
Wher-as this lady romed to and fro, 
And with that sighte hir beautee hurte hym so, 
That if that Palamon was wounded sore, 1115 

Arcite is hurt as moche as he, or moore. 
And with a sigh he seyde pitously, 
"The fresshe beautee sleeth me sodeynly 
Of hir, that rometh in the yonder place ! 
And but I have hir mercy and hir grace 1120 

That I may seen hir atte leeste. weye, 
I nam but deed, ther is namoore to seye." 
This Palamon, whan he tho wordes herde, 
Dispitously he looked and answerde, 

"Wheither seistow this in ernest or in pley?" 1125 

"Nay/* quod Arcite, "in ernest by my fey, 
God helpe me so, me list ful yvele pleye." 
This Palamon gan knytte his browes tweye ; 
"It nere," quod he, "to thee no greet honour 
For to be fals, ne for to be traitour 1130 

To me, that am thy cosyn and thy brother, 
1115 was om. 



Ysworn ful depe, and ech of us til oother, 

That nevere for to dyen in the peyne, 

Til that the deeth departe shal us tweyne, 

Neither of us in love to hyndre other, 1135 

Ne in noon oother cas, my leeve brother, 

But that thou sholdest trewely forthren me 

In every cas, as I shal forthren thee. 

This was thyn ooth, and myn also certeyn, 

I woot right wel thou darst it nat withseyn. 1140 

Thus artow of my conseil, out of doute ; 

And now thou woldest f alsly been aboute 

To love my lady, whom I love and serve 

And evere shal, til that myn herte sterve. 

Nay, certes, false Arcite, thow shalt nat so! 1145 

I loved hir first, and tolde thee my wo 

As to my conseil, and to my brother sworn, 

To forthre me as I have toold biforn, 

For which thou art ybounden as a knyght 

To helpen me, if it lay in thy myght, 1150 

Or elles artow fals, I dar wel seyn?' 

This Arcite ful proudly spak ageyn, 
"Thow shalt," quod he, "be rather fals than I. 
But thou art fals, I telle thee outrely, 

For paramour I loved hir first er thow. 1155 

What, wiltow seyn thou wistest nat yet now 
Wheither she be a womman or goddesse? 
Thyn is affeccioun of hoolynesse, 
And myn is love as to a creature; 

For which I tolde thee myn aventure 1160 

As to my cosyn and my brother sworn. 
I pose, that thow lovedest hir biforn; 
Wostow nat wel the olde clerkes sawe 
That 'who shal yeve a lovere any lawe ?' 

Love is a gretter lawe, by my pan, 1165 

Than may be yeve of any erthely man. 
1154 But And 


And therfore positif lawe and swich decree 

Is broken al day for love in ech degree. 

A man moot nedes love, maugree his heed, 

He may nat fleen it, thogh he sholde be deed, 1170 

Al be she mayde, or wydwe, or elles wyf. 

And eek it is nat likly, al thy lyf, 

To stonden in hir grace, namoore shal I, 

For wel thou woost thyselven^ verraily, 

That thou and I be dampned to prisoun 1175 

Perpetuelly, us gayneth'no raunsoun. 

We stryven as dide the houndes for the boon, 

They foughte al day, and yet hir part was noon. 

Ther cam a kyte, whil they weren so wrothe, 

And baar awey the boon bitwixe hem bothe. 1180 

And therfore at the kynges court, my brother, 

Ech man for hymself, ther is noon oother. 

Love if thee list, for I love, and ay shal ; 

And soothly, leeve brother, this is al. 

Heere in this prisoun moote we endure, 1185 

And everich of us take his aventure." 

Greet was the strif and long bitwix hem tweye, 
If that I hadde leyser for to seye 
But to theffect ; it happed on a day, 

To telle it yow as shortly as I may, 1190 

A worthy due, that highte Perotheus, 
That felawe was unto due Theseus 
Syn thilke day that they were children lite, 
Was come to Atthenes his felawe to visite, 
And for to pleye as he was wont to do 1195 

For in this world he loved no man so, 
And he loved hym als tendrely agayn. 
So wel they lovede, as olde bookes sayn, 
That whan that oon was deed, soothly to telle, 
His felawe wente and soughte hym doun in helle. 1200 

But of that storie list me nat to write ; 

1192 unto to. 1195 won. 


Due Perotheus loved wel Arcite, 

And hadde hym knowe at Thebes yeer by yere, 

And finally, at requeste and preyere 

Of Perotheus, withouten any raunsoun 1205 

Due Theseus hym leet out of prisoun 

Frely to goon, wher that hym liste overal, 

In swich a gyse as I you tellen shal. 

This was the forward, pleynly for tendite, 

Bitwixen Theseus and hym Arcite, 1210 

That if so were that Arcite were yfounde 

Evere in his lif, by day or nyght or stounde, 

In any contree of this Theseus, 

And he were caught, it was acorded thus, 

That with a swerd he sholde lese his heed; 1215 

Ther nas noon oother remedie ne reed, 

But taketh his leve and homward he him spedde ; 

Lat hym be war, his nekke lith to wedde ! 

How greet a sorwe suffreth now Arcite ! 
The deeth he feeleth thurgh his herte smyte, 1220 

He wepeth, wayleth, crieth pitously, 
To sleen hymself he waiteth prively. 
He seyde, "Alias, that day that he was born ! 
Now is my prisoun worse than biforn; 

Now is me shape eternally to dwelle 1225 

Nat in purgatorie but in helle. 
Alias, that evere knew I Perotheus ! 
For elles hadde I dwelled with Theseus, 
Yfetered in his prisoun evermo; 

Thanne hadde I been in blisse, and nat in wo. 1230 

Oonly the sighte of hire whom that I serve, 
Though that I nevere hir grace may deserve, 
Wolde han suffised right ynough for me. 
O deere cosyn Palamon," quod he, 

"Thyn is the victorie of this aventure. 1235 

Ful blis fully in prison maistow dure. 

1226 in my. 


In prisoun? certes, nay, but in Paradys ! 

Wei hath Fortune yturned thee the dys, 

That hast the sighte of hir, and I thabsence ; 

For possible is, syn thou hast hir presence, 1240 

And art a knyght, a worthy and an able, 

That by som cas, syn Fortune is chaungeable, 

Thow maist to thy desir som tyme atteyne. 

But I, that am exiled and bareyne 

Of alle grace, and in so greet dispeir 124-5 

That ther nys erthe, water, fir, ne eir, 

Ne creature, that of hem maked is, 

That may me heelp, or doon confort in this, 

Wei oughte I sterve in wanhope and distresse, 

Farwel, my lif, my lust, and my gladnesse ! 1250 

Alias, why pleynen folk so in commune 

On purveyaunce of God or of Fortune, 

That yeveth hem ful ofte in many a gyse 

Wei bettre than they kan hem-self devyse ? 

Som man desireth for to han richesse, 1255 

That cause is of his moerdre or greet siknesse. 

And som man wolde out of his prisoun fayn, 

That in his hous is of his meynee slayn. 

Infinite harmes been in this mateere, 

We witen nat what thing we preyen here. 1260 

We f aren as he that dronke is as a mous ; 

A dronke man woot wel he hath an hous, 

But he noot which the righte wey is thider, 

And to a dronke man the wey is slider. 

And certes, in this world so faren we; 1265 

We seken faste after felicitee, 

But we goon wrong ful often trewely. 

Thus may we seyen alle, and namely I, 

That wende and hadde a greet opinioun 

That if I myghte escapen from prisoun, 1270 

Thanne hadde I been in joye and perfit heele, 

1252 puruieaunce. 1260 thing om. 1262 that he. 1268 seyn. 




^her now I am exiled fro my wele. 
Syn that I may nat seen you, Emelye, 
I nam but deed, ther nys no remedye." 

Upon that oother syde, Palamon, 1275 

Whan that he wiste Arcite was agon, 
Swich sorwe he maketh, that the grete tour 
Resouneth of his youlyng and clamour. 
The pure fettres on his shynes grete 

Weren of his bittre salte teeres wete. 1280 

"Alias," quod he, "Arcite, cosyn myn ! 
Of al oure strif, God woot, the fruyt is thyn. 
Thow walkest now in Thebes at thy large, 
And of my wo thow yevest litel charge. 

Thou mayst, syn thou hast wysdom and manhede, 1285 

Assemblen alle the folk of oure kynrede, 
And make a werre so sharp on this citee, 
That by som aventure, or som tretee, 
Thow mayst have hir to lady and to wyf, 
For whom that I moste nedes lese my lyf. 1290 

For as by wey of possibilitee, 
Sith thou art at thy large of prisoun free, 
And art a lord, greet is thyn avauntage 
Moore than is myn, that sterve here in a cage. 
For I moot wepe and wayle, whil I lyve, 1295 

With al the wo that prison may me yeve, 
And eek with peyne that love me yeveth also, 
That doubleth al my torment and my wo." 
Therwith the fyr of jalousie up-sterte 

Withinne his brest, and hente him by the herte 1800 

So woodly, that he lyk was to biholde 
The boxtree, or the asshen dede and colde. 
Thanne seyde he, "O cruel goddes, that governe 
This world with byndyng of youre word eterne, 
And writen in the table of atthamaunt 1305 

Youre parlement and youre eterne graunt, 

1272 Ther That. 1278 Resouned. 


What is mankynde moore unto you holde 

Than is the sheep that rouketh in the f olde ? 

For slayn is man right as another beeste, 

And dwelleth eek in prison and arreeste, 1310 

And hath siknesse, and greet adversitee, 

And ofte tymes giltelees, pardee ! 

What governance is in this prescience 

That giltelees tormenteth innocence? 

And yet encresseth this al my penaunce, 1315 

That man is bounden to his observaunce, 

For Goddes sake, to letten of his wille, 

Ther as a beest may al his lust fulfille. 

And whan a beest is deed, he hath no peyne, 

But man after his deeth moot wepe and pleyne, 1320 

Though in this world he have care and wo. 

Withouten doute it may stonden so. 

The answere of this lete I to dyvynys, 

But well I woot, that in this world greet pyne ys. 

Alias, I se a serpent or a theef, 1325 

That many a trewe man hath doon mescheef, 

Goon at his large, and where hym list may turne ! 

But I moot been in prisoun thurgh Saturne, 

And eek thurgh Juno, j alous and eek wood, 

That hath destroyed wel ny al the blood 1330 

Of Thebes, with hise waste walles wyde. 

And Venus sleeth me on that oother syde 

For jalousie and fere of hym Arcite." 

Now wol I stynte of Palamon a lite, 

And lete hym in his prisoun stille dwelle, 1335 

And of Arcita forth I wol yow telle. 
The somer passeth, and the nyghtes longe 
Encressen double wise the peynes stronge 
Bothe of the lovere and the prisoner; 
I noot which hath the wofuller mester. 1340 

1309 beest. 1310 arreest. 1312, 1314, giltlees. 1320 man moot. 
1387 somer sonne. 


For shortly for to seyn, this Palamoun 

Perpetually is dampned to prisoun 

In cheynes and in fettres to been deed, 

And Arcite is exiled upon his heed 

For evere mo as out of that contree, 1345 

Ne nevere mo he shal his lady see. 

Yow loveres axe I now this questioun, 
Who hath the worse, Arcite or Palamoun ? 
That oon may seen his lady day by day, 
But in prison he moot dwelle alway; 1350 

That oother wher hym list may ride or go, 
But seen his lady shal he nevere mo. 
Now demeth as yow liste ye that kan, 
For I wol telle forth, as I bigan. 

Explicit prima pars. 

Sequitur pars secunda. 

Whan that Arcite to Thebes comen was, 1355 

Ful ofte a day he swelte and seyde 'alias/ 
For seen his lady shal he nevere mo ; 
And shortly to concluden al his wo, 
So muche sorwe hadde nevere creature, 

That is, or shal, whil that the world may dure. 1360 

His sleep, his mete, his drynke is hym biraft, 
That lene he wex and drye as is a shaft. 
Hise eyen holwe and grisly to biholde, 
His hewe f alow and pale as asshen colde ; 
And solitarie he was and evere all one 1365 

And waillynge al the nyght, makynge his mone. 
And if he herde song or instrument, 
Thanne wolde he wepe, he myghte nat be stent. 
So feble eek were hise spiritz, and so lowe, 
And chaunged so, that no man koude knowe 1370 

135S list. 1362 wexeth. 


His speche nor his voys, though men it herde. 
And in his geere for al the world he ferde 
Nat oonly lik the laveris maladye 
Of Hereos, but rather lyk manye 

Engendred of humour malencolik 1375 

Biforen in his celle fantastik, 
And shortly turned was al up-so-doun 
Bothe habit and eek disposicioun 
Of hym, this woful lovere daun Arcite. 

What sholde I al day of his wo endite? 1380 

Whan he endured hadde a yeer or two 
This crueel torment, and this peyne and woo, 
At Thebes in his contree, as I seyde, 
Upon a nyght in sleep as he hym leyde, 
Hym thoughte how that the wynged god Mercuric 1385 
Biforn hym stood, and bad hym to be murie. 
His slepy yerde in hond he bar uprighte, 
An hat he werede upon hise heris brighte. 
Arrayed was this god, as he took keep, 

As he was whan that Argus took his sleep ; 1390 

And seyde hym thus, "To Atthenes shaltou wende, 
Ther is thee shapen of thy wo an ende." 
And with that word Arcite wook and sterte. 
"Now trewely, how score that me smerte," 
Quod he, "to Atthenes right now wol I fare, 1 395 

Ne for the drede of deeth shal I nat spare 
To se my lady that I love and serve, 
In hir presence I recche nat to sterve." 
And with that word he caughte a greet mirour, 
And saugh that chaunged was al his colour, 1400 

And saugh his visage al in another kynde. 
And right anon it ran hym in his mynde, 
That sith his face was so disfigured 
Of maladye, the which he hadde endured, 
He myghte wel, if that he bar hym lowe, 1405 

1876 Biforn his owene. 1388 up 1389 he L 


Lyve in Atthenes, everemoore unknowe, 

And seen his lady wel ny day by day. 

And right anon he chaunged his array, 

And cladde hym as a jDOvre laborer, 

And al allone, save oonly a squier 1410 

That knew his privetee and al his cas, 

Which was disgised povrely, as he was, 

To Atthenes is he goon, the nexte way. 

And to the court he wente, upon a day, 

And at the gate he profreth his servyse, 1415 

To drugge and drawe, what so men wol devyse. 

And shortly of this matere for to seyn, 

He fil in office with a chamberleyn, 

The which that dwellynge was with Emelye, 

For he was wys and koude soone espye 1420 

Of every servant which that serveth here. 

Wel koude he hewen wode, and water bere, 

For he was yong and myghty for the nones, 

And therto he was strong and big of bones 

To doon that any wight kan hym devyse. 1425 

A yeer or two he was in this servyse 

Page of the chambre of Emelye the brighte; 

And Philostrate he seyde that he highte. 

But half so wel biloved a man as he 

Ne was ther nevere in court, of his degree; 1430 

He was so gentil of condicioun 

That thurghout al the court was his renoun. 

They seyden, that it were a charitee, 

That Theseus wolde enhaunsen his degree, 

And putten hym in worshipful servyse 1435 

Ther as he myghte his vertu exercise. 

And thus withinne a while his name is spronge 

Bothe of hise dedes and his goode tonge, 

That Theseus hath taken hym so neer 

That of his chambre he made hym a Squier, 1440 

1424 strong long. 


And gaf hym gold to mayntene his degree. 

And eek men broghte hym out of his contree 

From yeer to yeer, ful pryvely, his rente. 

But honestly and slyly he it spente, 

That no man wondred how that he it hadde. 1445 

And thre yeer in this wise his lif he ladde, 

And bar hym so in pees, and eek in werre, 

Ther was no man that Theseus hath derre. 

And in this blisse lete I now Arcite, 

And speke I wole of Palamon a lite. 1450 

In derknesse and horrible and strong prisoun 
Thise seven yeer hath seten Palamoun, 
Forpyned, what for wo and for distresse. 
Who feeleth double soor and hevynesse 

But Palamon, that love destreyneth so, 1455 

That wood out of his wit he goth for wo ? 
And eek therto he is a prisoner, 
Perpetuelly, noght oonly for a yer. 
Who koude ryme in Englyssh proprely 

His martirdom? Forsothe it am nat I, 1460 

Therfore I passe as lightly as I may. 
It fel that in the seventhe yer, in May, 
The thridde nyght, as olde bookes seyn, 
That al this storie tellen moore pleyn, 

Were it by aventure or destynee 1465 

As, whan a thyng is shapen, it shal be 
That soone after the mydnyght, Palamoun 
By helpyng of a freend, brak his prisoun 
And fleeth the citee f aste as he may go ; 
For he hade yeve his gayler drynke so 1470 

Of a clarree maad of a certeyn wyn, 
With nercotikes and opie of Thebes fyn, 
That al that nyght, thogh that men wolde him shake, 
The gayler sleep, he myghte nat awake. 
And thus he fleeth as faste as evere he may; 1475 

1472 With Of. 



The nyght was short and faste by the day, 

That nedes-cost he moot hymselven hyde ; 

And til a grove, faste ther bisyde, 

With dredeful foot thanne stalketh Palamoun. 

For shortly this was his opinioun, 1480 

That in that grove he wolde hym hyde al day, 

And in the nyght thanne wolde he take his way 

To Thebesward, his freendes for to preye 

On Theseus to helpe hym to werreye ; 

And shortly, outlier he wolde lese his lif, 1485 

Or wynnen Emelye unto his wyf ; 

This is theft'ect and his entente pleyn. 

Now wol I turne to Arcite ageyn, 

That litel wiste how ny that was his care 

Til that Fortune had broght him in the snare. 1490 

The bisy larke, messager of day, 
Salueth in hir song the morwe gray, 
And firy Phebus riseth up so brighte 
That al the orient laugheth of the lighte, 
And with hise stremes dryeth in the greves 1495 

The silver dropes hangynge on the leves ; 
And Arcita, that is in the court roial 
With Theseus, his squier principal, 
Is risen, and looketh on the myrie day. 

And for to doon his observaunce to May, , 1500 

Remembrynge on the poynt of his desir 
He on a courser startlynge as the fir 
Is riden into the feeldes, hym to p'leye, 
Out of the court, were it a myle or tweye. 
And to the grove of which that I yow tolde 1505 

By aventure his wey he gan to holde, 
To maken hym a gerland of the greves, 
Were it of wodebynde or hawethorn-leves. 
And loude he song ayeyn the sonne shene, 
"May, with alle thy floures and thy grene, 1510 

Welcome be thou, faire fresshe May, 



In hope that I som grene gete may." 
And from his courser, with a lusty herte, 
Into a grove ful hastily he sterte, 
And in a path he rometh up and doun 
Ther as by aventure this Palamoun 
Was in a bussh, that no man myghte hym se; 
For soore afered of his deeth was he. 
No thyng ne knew he that it was Arcite, 
God woot, he wolde have trowed it ful lite ! 
But sooth is seyd, gon sithen many yeres, 
That feeld hath eyen and the wode hath eres. 
It is ful fair a man to here hym evene, 
For al day meeteth men at unset stevene. 
Ful litel woot Arcite of his felawe, 
That was so ny to herknen al his sawe, 
For in the bussh he sitteth now ful stille. 

Whan that Arcite hadde romed al his fille 
And songen al the roundel lustily, 
Into a studie he fil al sodeynly, 
As doon thise loveres in hir queynte geres, 
Now in the croppe, now doun in the breres, 
Now up, now doun, as boket in a welle. 
Right as the Friday, soothly for to telle, 
Now it shyneth, now it reyneth f aste, 
Right so kan geery Venus overcaste 
The hertes of hir folk ; right as hir day 
Is gereful, right so chaungeth she array. 
Selde is the Friday al the wowke ylike. 
Whan that Arcite had songe, he gan to sike, 
And sette hym doun withouten any moore ; 
"Alias," quod he, "that day that I was bore ! 
How longe, Juno, thurgh thy crueltee 
Woltow werreyen Thebes the Citee? 
Alias, ybroght is to confusioun 
The blood roial of Cadme and Amphioun! 
1518 aferd;thanne was. 1521 go. 1532 crope. 









Of Cadmus, which that was the firste man 

That Thebes bulte, or first the toun bigan, 

And of the citee first was crouned kyng, 

Of his lynage am I, and his ofspryng, 1550 

By verray ligne, as of the stok roial, 

And now I am so caytyf and so thral 

That he that is my mortal enemy 

I serve hym as his squier povrely. 

And yet dooth Juno me wel moore shame, 1555 

For I dar noght biknowe myn owene name, 

But theras I was wont to highte Arcite, 

Now highte I Philostrate, noght worth a myte. 

Alias, thou felle Mars ! alias, Juno ! 

Thus hath youre ire oure kynrede al fordo, 1560 

Save oonly me, and wrecched Palamoun 

That Theseus martireth in prisoun. 

And over al this, to sleen me outrely, 

Love hath his firy dart so brennyngly 

Ystiked thurgh my trewe careful herte, 1565 

That shapen was my deeth erst than my sherte. 

Ye sleen me with youre eyen, Emelye, 

Ye been the cause wherfore that I dye. 

Of al the remenant of myn oother care 

Ne sette I nat the montance of a tare, 1570 

So that I koude doon aught to youre plesaunce." 

And with that word he fil doun in a traunce 

A longe tyme, and after he upsterte. 

This Palamoun, that thoughte that thurgh his herte 
He felte a coold swerd sodeynliche glyde, 1575 

For ire he quook, no lenger wolde he byde. 
And whan that he had herd Arcites tale, 
As he were wood, with face deed and pale, 
He stirte hym up out of the buskes thikke, 
And seide, "Arcite, false traytour wikke ! 1580 

Now artow hent that lovest my lady so, 
For whom that I have al this peyne and wo, 


And art my blood, and to my conseil sworn, 

As I ful ofte have seyd thee heer-biforn, 

And hast byjaped heere due Theseus, 1585 

And falsly chaunged hast thy name thus. 

I wol be deed, or elles thou shalt dye; 

Thou shalt nat love my lady Emelye, 

But I wol love hire oonly, and namo, 

For I am Palamon, thy mortal foo! 15QO 

And though that I no wepene have in this place, 

But out of prison am astert by grace, 

I drede noght that outher thow shalt dye, 

Or thow ne shalt nat loven Emelye. 

Chees which thou wolt, for thou shalt nat asterte!" 15Q5 

This Arcite, with ful despitous herte, 

Whan he hym knew, and hadde his tale herd, 

As fiers as leoun pulled out his swerd, 

And seyde thus: "By God that sit above, 

Nere it that thou art sik and wood for love, 1600 

And eek that thow no wepne hast in this place, 

Thou sholdest nevere out of this grove pace, 

That thou ne sholdest dyen of myn hond. 

For I defye the seurete and the bond 

Which that thou seist that I have maad to thee. 1605 

What, verray fool, thynk wel that love is free ! 

And I wol love hir, maugree al thy myght ! 

But for as muche thou art a worthy knyght, 

And wilnest to darreyne hire by bataille, 

Have heer my trouthe; tomorwe I wol nat faille 1610 

Withoute wityng of any oother wight 

That heere I wol be founden as a knyght, 

And bryngen harneys right ynough for thee, 

And chese the beste, and leve the worste for me. 

And mete and drynke this nyght wol I brynge 1615 

Ynough for thee, and clothes for thy beddynge ; 

And if so be that thou my lady wynne, 

And sle me in this wode ther I am inne, 


Thow mayst wel have thy lady as for me." 

This Palamon answerde, "I graunte it thee." 1620 

And thus they been departed til amorwe, 

Whan ech of hem had leyd his feith to borwe. 

O Cupide, out of alle charitee! 
O regne, that wolt no f elawe have with thee ! 
Ful sooth is seyd that love ne lordshipe 1625 

Wol noght, hir thankes, have no feiaweshipe. 
Wel fynden that Arcite and Palamoun: 
Arcite is riden anon unto the toun, 
And on the morwe, er it were dayes light, 
Ful prively two harneys hath he dight, 1630 

Bothe suffisaunt and mete to darreyne 
The bataille in the f eeld bitwix hem tweyne. 
And on his hors, allone as he was born, 
He carieth al this harneys hym biforn, 

And in the grove, at tyme and place yset, 1635 

This Arcite and this Palamon ben met. 
Tho chaungen gan the colour in hir face 
Right as the hunters in the regne of Trace, 
That stondeth at the gappe with a spere, 
Whan hunted is the leoun and the bere, 1640 

And hereth hym come russhyng in the greves, 
And breketh bothe bowes and the leves, 
And thynketh, "Heere cometh my mortal enemy, 
Withoute faille he moot be deed or I, 

For outher I moot sleen hym at the gappe, 1645 

Or he moot sleen me, if that me myshappe" 
So ferden they in chaungyng of hir hewe, 
As fer as everich of hem oother knewe. 
Ther nas no good day ne no saluyng, 

But streight withouten word or rehersyng 1650 

Everich of hem heelp for to ^rmen oother, 
As freendly as he were his owene brother. 
And after that with sharpe speres stronge 

1684 this the. 1637 Tho To. 1652 freenly. 


They foynen ech at oother wonder longe. 

Thou myghtest wene that this Palamoun 1655 

In his fightyng were a wood leoun, 

And as a crueel tigre was Arcite. 

As wilde bores gonne they to smyte, 

That frothen white as foom for ire wood. 

Up to the ancle foghte they in hir blood; 1660 

And in this wise I lete hem fightyng dwelle, 

And forth I wole of Theseus yow telle. 

The destinee, ministre general, 
That executeth in the world overal 

The purveiaunce that God hath seyn biforn, 1665 

So strong it is, that though the world had sworn 
The contrarie of a thyng, by ye or nay, 
Yet somtyme it shal fallen on a day 
That falleth nat eft withinne a thousand yeere. 
For certeinly, oure appetites heere, 1670 

Be it of werre, or pees, or hate, or love, 
Al is this reuled by the sighte above. 
This mene I now by myghty Theseus, 
That for to hunten is so desirus 

And namely at the grete hert in May, 1675 

That in his bed ther daweth hym no day 
That he nys clad, and redy for to ryde 
With hunte and horn, and houndes hym bisyde. 
For in his huntyng hath he swich delit 

That it is al his joye and appetit 1680 

To been hymself the grete hertes bane 
For after Mars he serveth now Dyane. 

Cleer was the day, as I have toold er this, 
And Theseus, with alle j oye and blis, 

With his Ypolita, the faire quene, 1685 

And Emelye, clothed al in grene, 
On huntyng be they riden roially, 
And to the grove, that stood ful faste by, 
In which ther was an hert, as men hym tolde, 


Due Theseus the streighte wey hath holde, 1690 

And to the launde he rideth hym ful right, 
For thider was the hert wont have his flight, 
And over a brook, and so forth in his weye. 
This due wol han a cours at hym, or tweye, 
With houndes swiche as that hym list comaunde. 1695 

And whan this due was come unto the launde, 
Under the sonne he looketh, and anon 
He was war of Arcite and Palamon, 
That foughten breme, as it were bores two; 
The brighte swerdes wenten to and fro 1700 

So hidously, that with the leeste strook 
It semed as it wolde felle an ook; 
But what they were, nothyng he ne woot. 
This due his courser with his spores smoot, 
And at a stert he was bitwix hem two, 1705 

And pulled out a swerd, and cride, "Hoo ! 
Namoore, up peyne of lesynge of youre heed ! 
By myghty Mars, he shal anon be deed 
That smyteth any strook, that I may seen ! 
But telleth me what myster men ye been, 1710 

That been so hardy for to fighten heere 
Withouten juge or oother officere, 
As it were in a lystes roially?" 
This Palamon answerde hastily, 

And seyde, "Sire, what nedeth wordes mo? 1715 

We have the deeth disserved, bothe two. 
Two woful wrecches been we, two caytyves, 
That been encombred of oure owene lyves, 
And as thou art a rightful lord and juge, 
Ne yeve us neither mercy ne refuge, 1720 

But sle me first for seinte charitee; 
But sle my felawe eek as wel as me 
Or sle hym first, for, though thow knowest it lite, 
This is thy mortal foo, this is Arcite, 
1702 fille. 1707 upon. 1710 mystiers. 


That fro thy lond is banysshed on his heed, 1725 

For which he hath deserved to be deed. 

For this is he, that cam unto thy gate, 

And seyde that he highte Philostrate. 

Thus hath he japed thee ful many a yer, 

And thou hast maked hym thy chief Squier, 1730 

And this is he that loveth Emelye. 

For sith the day is come that I shal dye, 

I make pleynly my confessioun 

That I am thilke wo ful Palamoun, 

That hath thy prisoun broken wikkedly. 1735 

I am thy mortal foo, and it am I 

That loveth so hoote Emelye the brighte, 

That I wol dye present in hir sighte ; 

Wherfore I axe deeth and my juwise 

But sle my felawe in the same wise 1740 

For bothe han we deserved to be slayn." 

This worthy due answerde anon agayn, 

And seyde, "This is a short conclusioun, 

Youre owene mouth, by your confessioun, 

Hath dampned yow, and I wol it recorde. 1745 

It nedeth noght to pyne yow with the corde, 

Ye shal be deed, by myghty Mars the rede !" 

The queene anon, for verray wommanhede, 

Gan for to wepe, and so dide Emelye, 

And alle the ladyes in the compaignye. 1750 

Greet pitee was it, as it thoughte hem alle, 

That evere swich a chaunce sholde falle. 

For gentilmen they were of greet estaat, 

And no thyng but for love was this debaat, 

And saugh hir blody woundes wyde and score, 1755 

And alle crieden, bothe lasse and moore, 

"Have mercy, lord, upon us wommen alle !" 

And on hir bare knees adoun they falle, 

And wolde have kist his feet ther as he stood; 

Til at the laste aslaked was his mood, 1760 


For pitee renneth soone in gentil herte. 

And though he first for ire quook and sterte, 

He hath considered shortly in a clause 

The trespas of hem bothe, and eek the cause, 

And although that his ire hir gilt accused, 1765 

Yet in his resoun he hem bothe excused. 

As thus, he thoghte wel, that every man 

Wol helpe hym-self in love, if that he kan, 

And eek delivere hym-self out of prisoun ; 

And eek his herte hadde compassioun 1770 

Of wommen, for they wepen evere in oon. 

And in his gentil herte he thoughte anon, 

And softe unto hym-self he seyde, "Fy 

Upon a lord that wol have no mercy, 

But been a leoun, bothe in word and dede, 1775 

To hem that been in repentaunce and drede, 

As wel as to a proud despitous man, 

That wol maynteyne that he first bigan ! 

That lord hath litel of discrecioun 

That in swich cas kan no divisioun, 1780 

But weyeth pride and humblesse after oon." 

And shortly, whan his ire is thus agoon, 

He gan to looken up with eyen lighte, 

And spak thise same wordes al on highte: 

"The God of love, A! benedicite! 178 

How myghty and how greet a lord is he ! 
Ayeyns his myght ther gayneth none obstacles, 
He may be cleped a god for hise myracles, 
For he kan maken at his owene gyse 

Of everich herte as that hym list divyse. 1790 

Lo heere, this Arcite and this Palamoun 
That quitly weren out of my prisoun, 
And myghte han lyved in Thebes roially, 
And witen I am hir mortal enemy, 
And that hir deth lith in my myght also; 1795 

1767 As And. 



And yet hath love, maugree hir eyen two, 

Ybroght hem hyder bothe for to dye! 

Now looketh, is nat that an heigh f olye ? 

Who may been a f ole, but if he love ? 

Bihoold, for Goddes sake that sit above, 1800 

Se how they blede ! Be they noght wel arrayed ? 

Thus hath hir lord, the God of Love, ypayed 

Hir wages and hir fees for hir servyse ! 

And yet they wenen for to been ful wyse, 

That serven love, for aught that may bifalle ! 1805 

But this is yet the beste game of alle, 

That she, for whom they han this j olitee, 

Kan hem therfore as muche thank, as me! 

She woot namoore of al this hoote fare, 

By God, than woot a cokkow or an hare! 1810 

But all moot ben assayed, hoot and coold; 

A man moot ben a fool, or yong or oold; 

I woot it by myself ful yore agon, 

For in my tyme a servant was I oon. 

And therfore, synT[ knowe of loves peyne, 1815 

And woot how soore it kan a man distreyne, 

As he that hath ben caught ofte in his laas, 

I yow foryeve al hoolly this trespaas, 

At requeste of the queene that kneleth heere, 

And eek of Emelye, my suster deere. 1820 

And ye shul bothe anon unto me swere, 

That nevere mo ye shal my contree dere, 

Ne make werre upon me, nyght ne day, 

But been my freendes in al that ye may, 

I yow foryeve this trespas, every deel." -1825 

And they hym sworen his axyng, faire and weel, 

And hym of lordship and of mercy preyde, 

And he hem graunteth grace, and thus he seyde : 

"To speke of roial lynage and richesse, 
Though that she were a queene or a princesse, 1830 

1810 or of. 


Ech of you bothe is worthy doutelees 

To wedden whan tyme is, but nathelees 

I speke as for my suster Emelye, 

For whom ye have this strif and j alousye : 

Ye woot yourself, she may nat wedden two 1835 

Atones, though ye tighten everemo ! 

That oon of you, al be hym looth or lief, 

He moot go pipen in an yvy-leef 

This is to seyn, she may nat now han bothe, 

Al be ye never so jalouse, ne so wrothe. 1840 

And forthy, I yow putte in this degree; 

That ech of yow shal have his destynee 

As hym is shape, and herkneth in what wyse; 

Lo, heere your ende of that I shal devyse. 

My wyl is this, for plat conclusioun, 1845 

Withouten any repplicacioun, 
If that you liketh, take it for the beste, 
That everich of you shal goon where hym leste, 
Frely, withouten raunson, or daunger, 

And this day fifty wykes fer ne ner, 1850 

Everich of you shal brynge an hundred knyghtes 
Armed for lystes up at alle rightes, 
Al redy to darreyne hire by bataille. 
And this bihote I yow withouten faille, 

Upon my trouthe, and as I am a knyght, 1855 

That wheither of yow bothe that hath myght, 
This is to seyn, that wheither he, or thow, 
May with his hundred, as I spak of now, 
Sleen his contrarie, or out of lystes dryve, 
Thanne shal I yeve Emelya to wyve, I860 

To whom that Fortune yeveth so fair a grace. 
Tho lystes shal I maken in this place, 
And God so wisly on my soule rewe, 
As I shal evene juge been, and trewe. 

Ye shul noon oother ende with me maken, 1865 

1832 but nathelees doutelees. 1838 go om. 


That oon of yow ne shal be deed ot taken. 

And if yow thynketh this is weel ysayd, 

Seyeth youre avys and holdeth you apayd; 

This is youre ende and youre conclusioun." 

Who looketh lightly now but Palamoun? 1870 

Who spryngeth up for joye but Arcite? 

Who kouthe tellen, or who kouthe endite 

The joye that is maked in the place, 

Whan Theseus hath doon so fair a grace? 

But doun on knees wente every maner wight, 1875 

And thonken hym with al hir herte and myght, 

And namely the Thebans, often sithe. 

And thus with good hope and with herte blithe 

They taken hir leve, and homward gonne they ride 

To Thebes with hise olde walles wyde. 1880 

Explicit secunda pars 
Sequitur pars tercia 

I trowe men wolde deme it necligence, 
If I foryete to tellen the dispence 
Of Theseus, that gooth so bisily 
To maken up the lystes roially; 

That swich a noble theatre as it was, 1885 

I dar wel seyen, in this world ther nas. 
The circuit a myle was aboute, 
Walled of stoon, and dyched al withoute. 
Round was the shap, in manere of compas, 
Ful of degrees the heighte of sixty pas, 1890 

That whan a man was set on o degree, 
He lette nat his felawe for to see. 
Estward ther stood a gate of marbul whit, 
Westward, right swich another in the opposit; 
And shortly to concluden, swich a place 1895 

Was noon in erthe, as in so litel space. 

1886 seyn. 


For in the lond ther was no crafty man 
That geometric or ars-metrik kan, 
Ne portreitour, ne kervere of ymages, 

That Theseus ne yaf him mete and wages 1900 

The theatre for to maken and devyse. 
And for to doon his ryte and sacrifise 
He estward hath upon the gate above, 
In worship of Venus, goddesse of love, 

Doon make an auter and an oratorie. 1905 

And on the gate westward, in memorie 
Of Mars, he maked hath right swich another, 
That coste largely of gold a fother. 
And northward, in a touret on the wal 

Of alabastre whit, and reed coral, 1910 

An oratorie, riche for to see, 
In worship of Dyane, of chastitee, 
Hath Theseus doon wroght in noble wyse. 
But yet hadde I foryeten to devyse 

The noble kervyng and the portreitures, 1915 

The shap, the contenaunce, and the figures, 
That weren in thise oratories thre. 
First in the temple of Venus maystow se 
Wroght on the wal, ful pitous to biholde, 
The broken slepes and the sikes colde, 1920 

The sacred teeris and the waymentynge, 
The firy strokes, and the desirynge 
That loves servauntz in this ly f enduren ; 
The othes that her covenantz assuren; 

Plesaunce and Hope, Desir, Foolhardynesse, 1925 

Beautee and Youthe, Bauderie, Richesse, 
Charmes and Force, Lesynges, Flaterye, 
Despense, Bisynesse, and Jalousye, 
That wered of yelewe gooldes a gerland, 
And a cokkow sittynge on hir hand; 1930 

Festes, instrumentz, caroles, daunces, 
1900 Mm om. 1906 gate om. 


Lust and array, and alle the circumstaunces 

Of love, whiche that I rekned, and rekne shal, 

By ordre weren peynted on the wal, 

And mo than I kan make of mencioun; 1935 

For soothly, al the mount oi: Citheroun, 

Ther Venus hath hir principal dwellynge, 

Was shewed on the wal in portreyynge, 

With al the gardyn and the lustynesse. 

Nat was foryeten the Porter Ydelnesse, 1940 

Ne Narcisus the faire, of yore agon, 

Ne yet the folye of kyng Salamon, 

And eek the grete strengthe of Ercules, 

Thenchauntementz of Medea and Circes, 

Ne of Turnus, with the hardy fiers corage, 1945 

The riche Cresus, kaytyf in servage; 

Thus may ye seen, that wysdom ne richesse, 

Beautee ne sleighte, strengthe, hardynesse, 

Ne may with Venus holde champartie, 

For as hir list, the world than may she gye. 1950 

Lo, alle thise folk so caught were in hir las, 

Til they for wo ful ofte seyde 'alias !' 

Suffiseth heere ensamples oon or two 

And, though, I koude rekene a thousand mo. 

The statue of Venus, glorious for to se, 1955 

Was naked, fletynge in the large see, 
And fro the navele doun al covered was 
With wawes grene, and brighte as any glas. 
A citole in hir right hand hadde she, 

And on hir heed, ful semely for to se, I960 

A rose gerland, fressh and wel smellynge; 
Above hir heed hir dowves flikerynge. 
Biforn hir stood hir sone, Cupido, 
Upon his shuldres wynges hadde he two, 
And blynd he was, as it was often scene. 1965 

A bowe he bar, and arwes brighte and kene. 
1933 have and. 1942 Ne And. 


Why sholde I noght as wel eek telle yow al 
Tte portraiture, that was upon the wal 
Withinne the temple of myghty Mars the rede? 
Al peynted was the wal in lengthe and brede 1970 

Lyk to the estres of the grisly place 
That highte the grete temple of Mars in Trace, 
In thilke colde frosty regioun 
Ther as Mars hath his sovereyn mansioun. 
First on the wal was peynted a forest 1975 

In which ther dwelleth neither man ne best, 
With knotty knarry bareyne trees olde, 
Of stubbes sharpe and hidouse to biholde, 
In which ther ran a rumbel and a swough 
As though a storm sholde bresten every bough. 1980 

And dounward from an hille, under a bente, 
Ther stood the temple of Mars Armypotente, 
Wroght al of burned steel, of which the entree 
Was long and streit, and gastly for to see, 
And therout came a rage and suche a veze, 1985 

That it made al the gate for to rese. 
The northren lyght in at the dores shoon, 
For wyndowe on the wal ne was ther noon, 
Thurgh which men myghten any light discerne. 
The dore was al of adamant eterne, 1990 

Yclenched overthwart and endelong 
With iren tough, and for to make it strong 
Every pyler, the temple to sustene, 
Was tonne-greet of iren bright and shene. 
Ther saugh I first the dirke ymaginyng 1995 

Of felonye, and al the compassyng, 
The crueel ire, reed as any gleede, 
The pykepurs, and eek the pale drede, 
The smyler with the knyfe under the cloke, 
The shepne brennynge with the blake smoke, 2000 

The tresoun of the mordrynge in the bedde, 

1996 al om. 1998 eek om. 


The open werre, with woundes al bibledde, 

Contek, with blody knyf and sharp manace, 

Al ful of chirkyng was that sory place. 

The sleer of hymself yet saugh I ther, 2005 

His herte-blood hath bathed al his heer; 

The nayl ydryven in the shode a nyght, 

The colde deeth, with mouth gapyng upright. 

Amyddes of the temple sat Meschaunce, 

With Disconfort and Sory Contenaunce. 2010 

Yet saugh I Woodnesse laughynge in his rage, 

Armed Compleint, Outhees, and fiers Outrage; 

The careyne in the busk with throte ycorve, 

A thousand slayn, and nat of qualm ystorve, 

The tiraunt with the pray by force yraft, 2015 

The toun destroyed, ther was nothyng laft. 

Yet saugh I brent the shippes hoppesteres, 

The hunte strangled with the wilde beres, 

The sowe f reten the child right in the cradel, 

The cook yscalded, for al his longe ladel. 2020 

Noght was foryeten by the infortune of Marte, 

The cartere over-ryden with his carte, 

Under the wheel ful lowe he lay adoun. 

Ther were also, of Martes divisioun, 

The barbour, and the bocher, and the smyth 2025 

That forgeth sharpe swerdes on his styth. 

And al above, depeynted in a tour, 

Saugh I Conquest sittynge in greet honour, 

With the sharpe swerd over his heed 

Hangynge by a soutil twyned threed. 2030 

Depeynted was the slaughtre of Julius, 

Of grete Nero, and of Antonius ; 

Al be that thilke tyme they were unborn, 

Yet was hir deth depeynted therbiforn 

By manasynge of Mars, right by figure; 2035 

So was it shewed in that portreiture, 

2014 nat oon. 2025 barbour laborer. 2030 twynes. 



As is depeynted in the sterres above 

Who shal be slayn or elles deed for love. 

Suffiseth oon ensample in stories olde, 

I may nat rekene hem alle though I wolde. 2040 

The statue of Mars upon a carte stood 
Armed, and looked grym as he were wood, 
And over his heed ther shynen two figures 
Of sterres. that been cleped in scriptures 
That oon Puella, that oother Rubeus. 2045 

This god of armes was arrayed thus : . 

A wolf ther stood biforn hym at his feet, 
With eyen rede, and of a man he eet. 
With soutil pencel was depeynt this storie, 
In redoutynge of Mars and of his glorie. 2050 

Now to the temple of Dyane the chaste 
As shortly as I kan I wol me haste, 
To telle yow al the descripsioun. 
Depeynted been the walles up and doun 

Of huntyng and of shamefast chastitee. 2055 

Ther saugh I, how woful Calistopee 
Whan that Diane agreved was with here, 
Was turned from a womman til a bere, 
And after was she maad the loode-sterre"; 
Thus was it peynted, I kan sey yow no ferre 2060 

Hir sone is eek a sterre, as men may see. 
Ther saugh I Dane, yturned til a tree, 
I mene nat the goddesse Diane, 
But Penneus doughter which that highte Dane. 
Ther saugh I Attheon an hert ymaked, 2065 

For vengeaunce that he saugh Diane al naked. 
I saugh how that hise houndes have hym caught 
And freeten hym, for that they knewe hym naught. 
Yet peynted was a litel f orthermoor 
How Atthalante hunted the wilde boor, 2070 

And Meleagree, and many another mo, 

2037 sterres certres. 2049 depeynted. 2069 was om. 


For which Dyane wroghte hym care and wo. 

Ther saugh I many another wonder storie, 

The whiche me list nat drawen to memorie. 

This goddesse on an hert ful hye sect, 2075 

With smale houndes al aboute hir feet; 

And undernethe hir feet she hadde a moone, 

Wexynge it was, and sholde wanye soone. 

In gaude grene hir statue clothed was, 

With bowe in honde, and arwes in a cas. 2080 

Hir eyen caste she ful lowe adoun, 

Ther Pluto hath his derke regioun. 

A womman travaillynge was hir bif orn ; 

But for hir child so longe was unborn 

Ful pitously Lucyna gan she calle, 2085 

And seyde, "Help, for thou mayst best of alle !" 

Wei koude he peynten lyfly, that it wroghte, 

With many a floryn he the hewes boghte. 

Now been thise listes maad, and Theseus, 
That at his grete cost arrayed thus 2090 

The temples, and the theatre every deel, 
Whan it was doon, hym lyked wonder weel. 
But stynte I wole of Theseus a lite, 
And speke of Palamon and of Arcite. 

The day approcheth of hir retournynge, 2095 

That everich sholde an hundred knyghtes brynge 
The bataille to darreyne, as I yow tolde. 
And til Atthenes, hir covenantz for to holde, 
Hath everich of hem broght an hundred knyghtes, 
Wei armed for the werre at alle rightes. 2100 

And sikerly, ther trowed many a man, 
That nevere sithen that the world bigan, 
As for to speke of knyghthod of hir hond, 
As fer as God hath maked see or lond, 

Nas of so fewe so noble a compaignye. 2105 

For every wight that lovede chivalrye, 

2075 ful wel. 2089 thise the. 


And wolde, his thankes, ban a passant name, 

Hath preyed that he myghte been of that game ; 

And wel was hym that therto chosen was. 

For if ther fille tomorwe swich a cas 2110 

Ye knowen wel, that every lusty knyght 

That loveth paramours, and hath his myght, 

Were it in Engelond or elles where, 

They wolde, hir thankes, wilnen to be there, 

To fighte for a lady, benedicitee! 2115 

It were a lusty sighte for to see. 

And right so ferden they with Palamon, 

With hym ther wenten knyghtes many on. 

Som wol ben armed in an haubergeoun, 

In a bristplate, and in a light gypoun, 2120 

And somme woln have a paire plates large, 

And somme woln have a Pruce sheeld, or a targe, 

Somme woln ben armed on hir legges weel, 

And have an ax, and somme a mace of steel. 

Ther is no newe gyse, that it nas old; 2125 

Armed were they, as I have yow told, 

Everych after his opinioun. 

Ther maistow seen comyng with Palamoun 

Lygurge hym-self, the grete kyng of Trace. 

Blak was his berd, and manly was his face, 2130 

The cercles of hise eyen in his heed, 

They gloweden bitwyxen yelow and reed, 

And lik a griffon looked he aboute, 

With kempe heeris on hise browes stoute, 

Hise lymes grete, hise brawnes harde and stronge, 2135 

Hise shuldres brode, hise armes rounde and longe; 

And as the gyse was in his contree, 

Ful hye upon a chaar of gold stood he, 

With foure white boles in the trays. 

In stede of cote-armure, over his harnays 2140 

With nayles yelewe and brighte as any gold 

2108 preyd. 2120 a om, 2133 grifphon. 


He hadde a beres skyn, colblak, f or-old ; 

His longe heer was kembd bihynde his bak, 

As any ravenes fethere it shoon for-blak. 

A wrethe of gold arm-greet, of huge wighte, 2145 

Upon his heed, set ful of stones brighte, 

Of fyne rubyes and of dyamauntz. 

Aboute his chaar ther wenten white alauntz, 

Twenty and mo, as grete as any steer, 

To hunten at the leoun or the deer, 2150 

And folwed hym, with mosel f aste ybounde, 

Colored of gold, and tourettes fyled rounde. 

An hundred lordes hadde he in his route, 

Armed ful wel, with hertes stierne and stoute. 

With Arcita, in stories as men fynde, 2155 

The grete Emetreus, the kyng of Inde, 
Upon a steede bay, trapped in steel, 
Covered in clooth of gold dyapred weel, 
Cam ridynge lyk the god of armes, Mars. 
His cote-armure was of clooth of Tars, 21 60 

Couched with perles white and rounde and grete. 
His sadel was of brend gold newe ybete ; 
A mantelet upon his shuldre hangynge 
Bret-ful of rubyes rede, as fyr sparklynge. 
His crispe heer lyk rynges was yronne, 2165 

And that was yelow, and glytered as the sonne. 
His nose was heigh, hise eyen bright citryn, 
Hise lippes rounde, his colour was sangwyn ; 
A fewe frakenes in his face yspreynd, 

Bitwixen yelow and somdel blak ymeynd, 2170 

And as a leoun he his looking caste. 
Of f yve and twenty yeer his age I caste ; 
His berd was wel bigonne for to sprynge, 
His voys was as a trompe thonderynge. 
Upon his heed he wered of laurer grene 2175 

A gerland, fressh and lusty for to sene. 

2163 mantel; shulder. 2164 Brat. 2174 thondringe. 


Upon his hand he bar for his deduyt 

An egle tame, as any lilye whyt. 

An hundred lordes hadde he with hym there, 

Al armed, save hir heddes, in al hir gere, 2180 

Ful richely in alle maner thynges. 

For trusteth wel, that dukes, erles, kynges, 

Were gadered in this noble compaignye, 

For love, and for encrees of chivalry e. 

Aboute this kyng ther ran on every part 2185 

Ful many a tame leoun and leopard, 

And in this wise thise lordes alle and some 

Been on the Sonday to the citee come, 

Aboute pryme, and in the toun alight. 

This Theseus, this due, this worthy knyght, 2190 

Whan he had broght hem into his citee, 

And inned hem, everich in his degree, 

He festeth hem, and dooth so greet labour 

To esen hem and doon hem al honour, 

That yet men weneth that no maner wit 2195 

Of noon estaat ne koude amenden it. 

The mynstralcye, the service at the feeste, 

The grete yiftes to the mooste and leeste, 

The riche array of Theseus paleys, 

Ne who sat first ne last upon the deys, 2200 

What ladyes fairest been, or best daunsynge, 

Or which of hem kan dauncen best and synge, 

Ne who moost felyngly speketh of love, 

What haukes sitten on the perche above, 

What houndes liggen in the floor adoun 2205 

Of al this make I now no mencioun ; 

But, al theffect, that thynketh me the beste, 

Now cometh the point, and herkneth if yow leste. 

The Sonday nyght, er day bigan to sprynge, 
Whan Palamon the larke herde synge, 2210 

Al though it nere nat day by houres two, 
Yet song the larke, and Palamon also. 


With hooly herte and with an heigh corage 

He roos, to wenden on his pilgrymage, 

Unto the blisful Citherea benigne, 2215 

I mene Venus, honurable and digne. 

And in hir houre he walketh forth a pas 

Unto the lystes, ther hire temple was, 

And doun he kneleth, with f ul humble cheer, 

And herte soor, and seyde in this manere. 2220 

"Faireste of faire, O lady myn, Venus, 
Doughter to Jove, and spouse of Vulcanus, 
Thow glader of the Mount of Citheron, 
For thilke love thow haddest to Adoon, 

Have pitee of my bittre teeris smerte, 2225 

And taak myn humble preyere at thyn herte. 
Alias, I ne have no langage to telle 
Theffectes, ne the tormentz of myn helle ! 
Myn herte may myne harmes nat biwreye, 
I am so confus that I kan noght seye. 2230 

But mercy, lady bright ! that knowest weele 
My thought, and seest what harmes that I feele. 
Considere al this, and rewe upon my soore, 
As wisly, as I shal for everemoore, 

Emforth my myght, thy trewe servant be, 2235 

And holden werre alwey with chastitee. 
That make I myn avow, so ye me helpe. 
I kepe noght of armes for to yelpe, 
Ne I ne axe nat tomorwe to have victorie, 
Ne renoun in this cas, ne veyne glorie 2240 

Of pris of armes blowen up and doun, 
But I wolde have fully possessioun 
Of Emelye, and dye in thy servyse. 
Fynd thow the manere how, and in what wyse 
I recche nat, but it may bettre be 2245 

To have victorie of hem, or they of me 
So that I have my lady in myne armes. 
For though so be, that Mars is god of armes, 


Youre vertu is so greet in hevene above 

That if yow list, I shal wel have my love. 2250 

Thy temple wol I worshipe everemo, 

And on thyn auter, where I ride or go, 

I wol doon sacrifice and fires beete. 

And if ye wol nat so, my lady sweete, 

Thanne preye I thee, tomorwe with a spere 2255 

That Arcita me thurgh the herte bere. 

Thanne rekke I noght, whan I have lost my lyf, 

Though that Arcita wynne hir to his wyf. 

This is theffect and ende of my preyere, 

Yif me my love, thow blisful lady deere I" 2260 

Whan the orison was doon of Palamon, 

His sacrifice he dide, and that anon, 

Ful pitously with alle circumstaunce ; 

Al telle I noght as now his observaunce. 

But atte laste, the statue of Venus shook, 2265 

And made a signe wherby that he took 

That his preyere accepted was that day. 

For thogh the signe shewed a delay, 

Yet wiste he wel that graunted was his boone, 

And with glad herte he wente hym hoom ful soone. 2270 

The thridde houre inequal, that Palamon 
Bigan to Venus temple for to gon, 
Up roos the sonne, and up roos Emelye, 
And to the temple of Dyane gan hye. 

Hir maydens that she thider with hir ladde, 2275 

Ful redily with hem the fyr they ladde, 
Thencens, the clothes, and the remenant al 
That to the sacrifice longen shal. 
The homes fulle of meeth, as was the gyse, 
Ther lakked noght to doon hir sacrifise, 2280 

Smokynge the temple, ful of clothes faire. 
This Emelye, with herte debonaire, 
Hir body wessh with water of a welle 
But how she dide hir ryte I dar nat telle_, 


But it be any thing in general ; 2285 

And yet it were a game to heeren al, 

To hym that meneth wel it were no charge, 

But it is good a man been at his large. 

Hir brighte heer was kempt untressed al, 
A coroune of a grene ook cerial 2290 

Upon hir heed was set, ful fair and meete. 
Two fyres on the auter gan she beete, 
And dide hir thynges as men may biholde 
In Stace of Thebes, and thise bookes olde. 
Whan kyndled was the fyr, with pitous cheere 22p5 

Unto Dyane she spak as ye may heere. 

"O chaste goddesse of the wodes grene, 
To whom bothe hevene and erthe and see is sene, 
Queene of the regne of Pluto derk and lowe, 
Goddesse of maydens, that myn herte hast knowe 2300 

Ful many a yeer, and woost what I desire, 
As keep me fro thy vengeaunce and thyn ire, 
That Attheon aboughte cruelly. 
Chaste goddesse, wel wostow that I 

Desire to ben a mayden al my lyf, 2305 

Ne nevere wol I be no love ne wyf . 
I am, thow woost, yet of thy compaignye, 
A mayde, and love huntynge and venerye, 
And for to walken in the wodes wilde, 

And noght to ben a wyf, and be with childe. 2310 

Noght wol I knowe the compaignye of man ; 
Now helpe me, lady, sith ye may and kan, 
For tho thre formes that thou hast in thee. 
And Palamon, that hath swich love to me, 
And eek Arcite, that loveth me so sore, 2315 

This grace I preye thee, withoute moore, 
As sende love and pees bitwixe hem two, 
And fro me turne awey hir hertes so, 

at al hir hoote love and hir desir, 
kempd. 2317 As And. 


And al hir bisy torment and hir fir, 2320 

Be queynt, or turned in another place. 
And if so be thou wolt do me no grace, 
And if my destynee be shapen so 
That I shal nedes have oon of hem two, 

As sende me hym that moost desireth me. 2325 

Bihoold, goddesse, of clene chastitee, 
The bittre teeris that on my chekes falle. 
Syn thou art mayde and kepere of us alle, 
My maydenhede thou kepe and wel conserve, 
And whil I lyve a mayde, I wol thee serve." 2330 

The fires brenne upon the auter cleere, 
Whil Emelye was thus in hir preyere; 
But sodeynly she saugh a sighte queynte, 
For right anon oon of the fyres queynte, 
And quyked agayn, and after that anon 2335 

That oother fyr was queynt and al agon. 
And as it queynte, it made a whistelynge 
As doon thise wete brondes in hir brennynge ; 
And at the brondes ende out ran anon 

As it were blody dropes many oon ; 2340 

For which so soore agast was Emelye 
That she was wel ny mad, and gan to crye; 
For she ne wiste what it signyfied. 
But oonly for the feere thus hath she cried, 
And weep that it was pitee for to heere ; 2345 

And therwithal Dyane gan appeere, 
With bowe in honde, right as an hunteresse, 
And seyde, "Doghter, stynt thyn hevynesse. 
Among the goddes hye it is affermed, 

And by eterne word writen and confermed, 2350 

Thou shalt ben wedded unto oon of tho 
That han for thee so muchel care and wo. 
But unto which of hem I may nat telle, 
Farwel, for I ne may no lenger dwelle. 
2337 whistlynge. 


The fires whiche that on myn auter brenne 2355 

Shule thee declaren, er that thou go henne, 

Thyn aventure of love, as in this cas." 

And with that word, the arwes in the caas 

Of the goddesse clateren faste and rynge, 

And forth she wente, and made a vanysshynge, 2360 

For which this Emelye astoned was, 

And seyde, "What amounteth this, alias ! 

I putte me in thy proteccioun, 

Dyane, and in thy disposicioun !" 

And hoom she goth anon the nexte weye. 2365 

This is theffect, ther is namoore to seye. 

The nexte houre of Mars folwynge this 
Arcite unto the temple walked is 
Of fierse Mars, to doon his sacrifise 

With alle the rytes of his payen wyse. 2370 

With pitous herte and heigh devocioun 
Right thus to Mars he seyde his orisoun. 

"O stronge god, that in the regnes colde 
Of Trace honoured art and lord yholde, 
And hast in every regne and every lond 2375 

Of armes al the brydel in thyn hond, 
And hem fortunest as thee lyst devyse, 
Accepte of me my pitous sacrifise. 
If so be that my youthe may deserve, 

And that my myght be worthy for to serve 2380 

Thy godhede, that I may been oon of thyne, 
Thanne preye I thee to rewe upon my pyne. 
For thilke peyne, and thilke hoote fir, 
In which thou whilom brendest for desir 
Whan that thow usedest the greet beautee 2385 

Of faire yonge fresshe Venus free, 
And haddest hir in armes at thy wille 
Al though thee ones on a tyme mysfille 
Whan Vulcanus hadde caught thee in his las, 
2356 declare. 2385 greet om. 


And foond thee liggynge by his wyf, alias ! 2390 

For thilke sorwe that was in thyn herte 

Have routhe as wel, upon my peynes smerte ! 

I am yong and unkonnynge as thow woost, 

And, as I trowe, with love offended moost 

That evere was any lyves creature; 2395 

For she that dooth me al this wo endure, 

Ne reccheth nevere wher I synke or fleete. 

And wel I woot, er she me mercy heete, 

I moot with strengthe wynne hir in the place. 

And wel I woot, withouten help or grace 2400 

Of thee, ne may my strengthe noght availle. 

Thanne help me, lord, tomorwe in my bataille 

For thilke fyr that whilom brente thee, 

As v/el as thilke fyr now brenneth me ! 

And do that I tomorwe have victorie, 2405 

Myn be the travaille and thyn be the glorie. 

Thy sovereyn temple wol I moost honouren 

Of any place, and alwey moost labouren 

In thy plesaunce, and in thy craftes stronge, 

And in thy temple I wol my baner honge, 2410 

And alle the armes of my compaignye ; 

And evere-mo, unto that day I dye, 

Eterne fir I wol biforn thee fynde. 

And eek to this avow I wol me bynde; 

My beerd, myn heer, that hongeth long adoun, 2415 

That nevere yet ne felte offensioun 

Of rasour, nor of shere, I wol thee yeve, 

And ben thy trewe servant whil I lyve. 

Now lord, have routhe upon my sorwes score; 

Yif me the victorie, I aske thee namoore!" 2420 

The prey ere stynt of Arcita the stronge ; 
The rynges on the temple dore that honge, 
And eek the dores clatereden ful faste, 
Of which Arcita somwhat hym agaste. 
The fyres brenden upon the auter brighte, 2425 


That it gan al the temple for to lighte, 

And sweete smel the ground anon upyaf, 

And Arcita anon his hand uphaf, 

And moore encens into the fyr he caste, 

With othere rytes mo, and atte laste 2430 

The statue of Mars bigan his hauberk rynge, 

And with that soun he herde a murmurynge, 

Ful lowe and dym, and seyde thus, 'Victorie !' 

For which he yaf to Mars honour and glorie ; 

And thus with joye and hope wel to fare, 2435 

Arcite anon unto his in is fare, 

As fayn as fowel is of the brighte sonne. 

And right anon swich strif ther is bigonne 
For thilke grauntyng in the hevene above 
Bitwixe Venus, the Goddesse of Love, 2440 

And Mars the stierne God armypotente, 
That Jupiter was bisy it to stente ; 
Til that the pale Saturnus the colde, 
That knew so manye of aventures olde, 

Foond in his olde experience an art 2445 

That he ful soone hath plesed every part. 
As sooth is seyd, elde hath greet avantage; 
In elde is bothe wysdom and usage; 
Men may the olde atrenne, and noght atrede. 
Saturne anon, to stynten strif and drede, 2450 

Al be it that it is agayn his kynde, 
Of al this strif he gan remedie fynde. 
"My deere doghter Venus," quod Saturne, 
"My cours, that hath so wyde for to turne, 
Hath moore power than woot any man. 2455 

Myn is the drenchyng in the see so wan, 
Myn is the prison in the derke cote, 
Myn is the stranglyng and hangyng by the throte, 
The murmure, and the cherles rebellyng, 
The groynynge, and the pryvee empoysonyng. 2460 

2445 an and. 


I do vengeance and pleyn correccioun, 

Whil I dwelle in the signe of the leoun. 

Myn is the ruyne of the hye halles, 

The fallynge of the toures and of the walles 

Upon the mynour, or the carpenter. 2465 

I slow Sampsoun shakynge the piler, 

And myne be the maladyes colde, 

The derke tresons, and the castes olde; 

My lookyng is the fader of pestilence. 

Now weep namoore, I shal doon diligence 2470 

That Palamon, that is thyn owene knyght, 

Shal have his lady, as thou hast him hight. 

Though Mars shal helpe his knyght, yet nathelees 

Bitwixe yow ther moot be somtyme pees, 

Al be ye noght of o compleccioun 2475 

That causeth al day swich divisioun. 

I am thyn aiel, redy at thy wille, 

Weep now namoore, I wol thy lust fulfille." 

Now wol I stynten of the goddes above, 

Of Mars and of Venus, goddesse of Love, 2480 

And telle yow, as pleynly as I kan, 

The grete effect for which that I bygan. 

Explicit tercia pars. 
Sequitur pars quarta. 

Greet was the f eeste in Atthenes that day, 
And eek the lusty seson of that May 

Made every wight to been in such plesaunce 2485 

That al that Monday j usten they and daunce, 
And spenten it in Venus heigh servyse. 
And by the cause that they sholde ryse 
Eerly for to seen the grete fight, 

Unto hir reste wenten they at nyght. 2490 

And on the morwe, whan that day gan sprynge, 

2462 the (1) om. 


Of hors and barneys, noyse and claterynge 

Ther was in hostelryes al aboute. 

And to the paleys rood ther many a route 

Of lordes, upon steedes and palfreys. 2495 

Ther maystow seen divisynge of barneys 

So unkouth and so riche, and wroght so weel, 

Of goldsmythrye, of browdynge, and of steel ; 

The sheeldes brighte, testeres, and trappures ; 

Gold-hewen helmes, hauberkes, cote-armures ; 2500 

Lordes in parementz on hir courseres, 

Knyghtes of retenue and eek squieres, 

Nailynge the speres, and helmes bokelynge, 

Giggynge of sheeldes, with layneres lacynge. 

There as nede is, they weren nothyng ydel. 2505 

The fomy steedes on the golden brydel 

Gnawynge, and faste the armurers also 

With fyle and hamer prikynge to and fro ; 

Yemen on foote and communes many oon, 

With shorte staves thikke as they may goon, 2510 

Pypes, trompes, nakerers, clariounes, 

That in the bataille blowen blody sounes ; 

The paleys ful of peples up and doun, 

Heere thre, ther ten, holdynge hir questioun, 

Dyvynynge of thise Thebane knyghtes two. 2515 

Somme seyden thus, somme seyde it shal be so, 

Somme helden with hym with the blake berd, 

Somme with the balled, somme with the thikke-herd, 

Somme seyde he looked grymme, and he wolde fighte, 

He hath a sparth of twenty pound of wighte, 2520 

Thus was the halle ful of divynynge 

Longe after that the sonne gan to sprynge. 

The grete Theseus, that of his sleep awaked . 
With mynstralcie and noyse that was maked, 
Heeld yet the chambre of his paleys riche, 2525 

Til that the Thebane knyghtes, bothe yliche 
Honured, were into the paleys f et. 


Due Theseus was at a wyndow set, 

Arrayed, right as he were a god in trone. 

The peple preesseth thiderward ful soone, 2530 

Hym for to seen and doon heigh reverence. 

And eek to herkne his heste and his sentence. 

An heraud on a scaffold made an "Oo !" 

Til al the noyse of peple was ydo, 

And whan he saugh the peple of noyse al stille, 2535 

Tho shewed he the myghty dukes wille. 

"The lord hath of his heigh discrecioun 

Considered, that it were destruccioun 

To gentil blood, to fighten in the gyse 

Of mortal bataille, now in this emprise; 2540 

Wherfore^ to shapen that they shal nat dye, 

He wolde his firste purpos modifye. 

No man therfore, up peyne of los of lyf, 

No maner shot,, ne polax, ne short knyf 

Into the lystes sende, ne thider brynge. 2545 

Ne short swerd for to stoke, with poynt bitynge, 

No man ne drawe, ne bere by his syde ; 

Ne no man shal unto his f elawe ryde 

But o cours, with a sharpe ygrounde spere. 

Foyne if hym list on foote, hym-self to were; 2550 

And he that is at meschief shal be take, 

And noght slayn, but be broght unto the stake 

That shal ben ordeyned on either syde, 

But thider he shal by force, and there abyde. 

And if so be the chevetayn be take 2555 

On outher syde, or elles sleen his make, 

No lenger shal the turneiynge laste. 

God spede you, gooth forth, and ley on f aste ! 

With long swerd and with maces fight youre fille ; 

Gooth now youre wey, this is the lordes wille." 2560 

The voys of peple touchede the hevene, 
So loude cride they with murie stevene, 
2544 ne (1) om. 2555 chieftayn. 2559 fl^hteth, 2561 touched. 


"God save swich a lord, that is so good 

He wilneth no destruccion of blood." 

Up goon the trompes and the melodye, 2565 

And to the lystes rit the compaignye, 

By ordinance, thurgh-out the citee large 

Hanged with clooth of gold, and nat with sarge. 

Ful lik a lord this noble due gan ryde, 

Thise two Thebanes upon either syde, 2570 

And after rood the queene and Emelye, 

And after that another compaignye, 

Of oon and oother, after hir degre ; 

And thus they passen thurgh-out the citee 

And to the lystes come they by tyme. 2575 

It nas nat of the day yet fully pryme 

Whan set was Theseus ful riche and hye, 

Ypolita the queene, and Emelye, 

And othere ladys in degrees aboute. 

Unto the seettes preesseth al the route, 2580 

And westward thurgh the gates under Marte, 

Arcite, and eek the hondred of his parte, 

With baner reed is entred right anon. 

And in that selve moment Palamon 

Is under Venus estward in the place, 2585 

With baner whyt, and hardy chiere and face. 

In al the world to seken up and doun 

So evene withouten variacioun 

Ther nere swiche compaignyes tweye ! 

For ther was noon so wys, that koude seye 2590 

That any hadde of oother avauntage, 

Of worthynesse ne of estaat ne age, 

So evene were they chosen, for to gesse. 

And in two renges faire they hem dresse, 

Whan that hir names rad were everichon, 2595 

That in hir nombre gyle were ther noon. 

Tho were the gates shet and cried was loude, 

2570 Thebans. 2593 they om. 


"Do now youre devoir, yonge knyghtes proude !" 
The heraudes lefte hir prikyng up and doun; 
Now ryngen trompes loude and clarioun. 2600 

Ther is namoore to seyn, but west and est 
In goon the speres ful sadly in arrest, 
In gooth the sharpe spore into the syde. 
Ther seen men who kan juste, and who kan ryde, 
Ther shyveren shaftes upon sheeldes thikke; 2605 

He feeleth thurgh the herte-spoon the prikke. 
Up spryngen speres twenty foot on highte; 
Out gooth the swerdes as the silver brighte. 
The helmes they tohewen and toshrede, 

Out brest the blood, with stierne stremes rede, 2610 

With myghty maces the bones they tobreste. 
He thurgh the thikkeste of the throng gan threste ; 
Ther stomblen steedes stronge, and doun gooth al ; 
He rolleth under foot as dooth a bal, 

He foyneth on his feet with his tronchoun, 2615 

And he hym hurtleth with his hors adoun. 
He thurgh the body is hurt and sithen ytake, 
Maugree his heed, and broght unto the stake, 
As forward was, right there he moste abyde ; 
Another lad is on that oother syde. 2620 

And som tyme dooth hem Theseus to reste, 
Hem to refresshe, and drynken if hem leste. 
Ful ofte a day han thise Thebanes two 
Togydre ymet, and wroght his felawe wo. 
Unhorsed hath ech oother of hem tweye, 2625 

Ther nas no tygre in the vale of Galgopheye 
Whan that hir whelp is stole, whan it is lite, 
So crueel on the hunte, as is Arcite 
For jelous herte upon this Palamoun; 

Ne in Belmarye ther nys so fel leoun 2630 

That hunted is, or for his hunger wood, 
Ne of his praye desireth so the blood, 
2613 semblen. 2622 fresshen. 


As Palamoun to sleen his foo Arcite. 

The jelous strokes on hir helmes byte, 

Out renneth blood on bothe hir sydes rede. 2635 

Som tyme an ende ther is of every dede; 
For er the sonne unto the reste wente, 
The stronge kyng Emetreus gan hente 
This Palamon, as he f aught with Arcite, 
And made his swerd depe in his flessh to byte. 26'AO 

And by the force of twenty is he take 
Unyolden, and ydrawe unto the stake. 
And in the rescous of this Palamoun 
The stronge kyng Lygurge is born adoun, 
And kyng Emetreus, for al his strengthe, 2645 

Is born out of his sadel a swerdes lengthe, 
So hitte him Palamoun er he were take ; 
But al for noght, he was broght to the stake. 
His hardy herte myghte hym helpe naught, 
He moste abyde, whan that he was caught, 2650 

By force, and eek by composicioun. 
Who sorweth now but woful Palamoun, 
That moot namoore goon agayn to fighte ? 
And whan that Theseus hadde seyn this sighte 
Unto the folk that foghten thus echon 2655 

He cryde, "Hoo ! namoore, for it is doon. 
I wol be trewe juge, and no partie; 
Arcite of Thebes shal have Emelie, 
That by his fortune hath hir faire ywonne !" 
Anon ther is a noyse of peple bigonne 2660 

For j oye of this so loude and heighe withalle 
It semed that the lystes sholde falle. 

What kan now faire Venus doon above? 
Whatseith she now^ what dooth this queene of Love, 
But wepeth so, for wantynge of hir wille, 2665 

Til that hir teeres in the lystes fille. 
She seyde, "I am ashamed, doutelees." 

2643 rescus. 


Saturnus seyde, "Doghter, hoold thy pees, 

Mars hath his wille, his knyght hath al his boone, 

And, by myn heed, thow shalt been esed soone." 2670 

The trompes with the loude mynstralcie, 
The heraudes that ful loude yolle and crie, 
Been in hir wele for j oye of Daun Arcite. 
But herkneth me, and stynteth now a lite, 
Which a myracle ther bifel anon. 2675 

This fierse Arcite hath of his helm ydon, 
And on a courser for to shewe his face 
He priketh endelong the large place, 
Lokynge upward upon this Emelye, 

And she agayn hym caste a freendlich eye, 2680 

(For wommen, as to speken in commune, 
They folwen al the favour of Fortune) 
And she was al his chiere, as in his herte. 
Out of the ground a furie infernal sterte, 
From Pluto sent, at requeste of Saturne, 2685 

For which his hors for fere gan to turne, 
And leep aside and foundred as he leep. 
And er that Arcite may taken keep, 
He pighte hym on the pomel of his heed, 
That in the place he lay as he were deed, 2690 

His brest tobrosten with his sadel-bowe. 
As blak he lay as any cole or crowe, 
So was the blood yronnen in his face. 
Anon he was yborn out of the place, 

With herte soor, to Theseus paleys. 2695 

Tho was he korven out of his harneys, 
And in a bed ybrought ful faire and blyve, 
For he was yet in memorie and alyve, 
And alwey criynge after Emelye. 

Due Theseus, with al his compaignye, 2700 

Is comen hoom to Atthenes his citee, 
With alle blisse and greet solempnitee; 

2679 this om. 2681-2 om. 2683 she om 


Al be it that this aventure was falle, 

He nolde noght disconforten hem alle. 

Men seyde eek that Arcite shal nat dye, 2705 

He shal been heeled of his maladye. 

And of another thyng they fayn, 

That of hem alle was ther noon yslayn, 

Al were they soore yhurt, and namely oon, 

That with a spere was thirled his brest-boon. 2710 

To othere woundes, and to broken armes, 

Somme hadden salves, and somme hadden charmes, 

Fermacies of herbes and eek save 

They dronken, for they wolde hir lymes have. 

For which this noble due as he wel kan, 2715 

Conforteth and honoureth every man, 

And made revel al the longe nyght 

Unto the straunge lordes, as was right. 

Ne ther was holden no disconfitynge 

But as a justes or a tourneiynge, 2720 

For soothly ther was no disconfiture 

For fallyng nys nat but an aventure 

Ne to be lad by force unto the stake 

Unyolden, and with twenty knyghtes take, 

O persone allone, withouten mo, 2725 

And haryed forth by arme, foot, and too, 

And eke his steede dryven forth with staves, 

With footmen, bothe yemen and eek knaves, 

It nas aretted hym no vileynye, 

Ther may no man clepen it cowardye. 2730 

For which anon due Theseus leet crye, 

To stynten alle rancour and envye, 

The gree, as wel of o syde as of oother, 

And eyther syde ylik as ootheres brother, 

And yaf hem yiftes after hir degree, 2735 

And fully heeld a feeste dayes three, 

And convoyed the kynges worthily 

2726 arm. 


Out of his toun a j ournee, largely ; 

And hoom wente every man, the righte way, 

Ther was namoore but f fare-wel, have good day/ 2740 

Of this bataille I wol namoore endite, 

But speke of Palamoun and of Arcyte. 

Swelleth the brest of Arcite, and the soore 
Encreesseth at his herte moore and moore. 
The clothered blood for any lechecraft 2745 

Corrupteth, and is in his bouk ylaft, 
That neither veyne-blood, ne ventusynge, 
Ne drynke of herbes may ben his helpynge. 
The vertu expulsif, or animal, 

Fro thilke vertu cleped natural 2750 

Ne may the venym voyden, ne expelle. 
The pipes of his longes gonne to swelle, 
And every lacerte in his brest adoun 
Is shent with venym and corrupcioun. 

Hym gayneth neither for to gete his lif 2755 

Vomyt upward, ne dounward laxatif ; 
Al is tobrosten thilke regioun, 
Nature hath now no dominacioun. 
And certeinly, ther Nature wol nat wirche, 
Fare-wel phisik, go ber the man to chirche ! 2760 

This al and som, that Arcita moot dye ; 
For which he sendeth after Emelye 
And Palamon, that was his cosyn deere. 
Thanne seyde he thus, as ye shal after heere: 
"Naught may the woful spirit in myn herte 2765 

Declare o point of alle my sorwes smerte 
To yow, my lady, that I love moost. 
But I biquethe the servyce of my goost 
To yow aboven every creature. 

Syn that my lyf may no lenger dure, 2770 

Alias, the wo ! alias, the peynes stronge 
That I for yow have suffred, and so longe ! 
Alias, the deeth ! alias, myn Emelye ! 


Alias, departynge of our compaignye ! 

Alias, myn hertes queene ! alias, my wyf ! 2775 

Myn hertes lady, endere of my lyf ! 

What is this world ? what asketh men to have ? 

Now with his love, now in his colde grave, 

Allone, withouten any compaignye. 

Fare-wel, my swete foo, myn Emelye, 2780 

And softe taak me in youre armes tweye, 

For love of God, and herkneth what I seye. 

"I have heer with my cosyn Palamon 
Had strif and rancour many a day agon, 
For love of yow, and for my jalousye. 2785 

And Juppiter so wys my soule gye 
To speken of a servaunt proprely, 
With alle circumstances trewely, 
That is to seyn, trouthe, honour, and knyghthede, 
Wysdom, humblesse, estaat, and heigh kynrede, 2790 

Fredom, and al that longeth to that art, 
So Juppiter have of my soule part 
As in this world right now ne knowe I non 
So worthy to ben loved, as Palamon 

That serveth yow, and wol doon al his lyf; 2795 

And if that evere ye shul ben a wyf, 
Foryet nat Palamon, the gentil man." 
And with that word his speche faille gan, 
And from his herte up to his brest was come 
The coold of deeth, that hadde hym overcome. 2800 

And yet moreover in hise armes two 
The vital strengthe is lost and al ago. 
Oonly the intellect, withouten moore, 
That dwelled in his herte syk and soore 

Gan faillen, when the herte felte deeth. 2805 

Dusked hise eyen two, and f ailled breeth, 
But on his lady yet caste he his eye. 
His laste word was "mercy, Emelye !" 

2789 and om. 2801 for in. 


His spirit chaunged hous, and wente ther 

As I cam never e, I kan nat tellen wher, 2810 

Therf ore I stynte ; I nam no divinistre, 

Of soules fynde I nat in this registry 

Ne me ne list thilke opinions to telle 

Of hem, though that they writen wher they dwelle. 

Arcite is coold, ther Mars his soule gye: 2815 

Now wol I speken forth of Emelye. 

Shrighte Emelye, and howleth Palamon, 
And Theseus his suster took anon 
Swownynge, and baar hir fro the corps away. 
What helpeth it to tarien forth the day 2820 

To tellen how she weep bothe eve and morwe ? 
For in swich cas wommen have swich sorwe 
Whan that hir housbond is from hem ago, 
That for the moore part they sorwen so, 
Or ellis fallen in swich maladye, 2825 

That at the laste certeinly they dye. 
Infinite been the sorwes and the teeres 
Of olde folk, and eek of tendre yeeres 
In al the toun, for deeth of this Theban. 

For hym ther wepeth bothe child and man; 2830 

So greet a wepyng was ther noon, certayn, 
Whan Ector was ybroght al fressh yslayn 
To Troye, alias, the pitee that was ther ! 
Cracchynge of chekes, rentynge eek of heer ;- 
"Why woldestow be deed," thise wommen crye, 2835 

"And haddest gold ynough, and Emelye?" 
No man myghte gladen Theseus, 
Savynge his olde fader, Egeus, 
That knew this worldes transmutacioun, 

As he hadde seyn it chaungen up and doun, 2840 

Joye after wo, and wo after gladnesse, 
And shewed hem ensamples and liknesse. 

"Right as ther dyed nevere man," quod he, 

2840 chaungen om. 


"That he ne lyvede in erthe in Som degree, 

Right so ther lyvede never man/' he seyde, 2845 

"In al this world that somtyme he ne deyde. 

This world nys but a thurghfare ful of wo, 

And we been pilgrymes passynge to and fro. 

Deeth is an ende of every worldes score." 

And over al this yet seyde he muchel moore, 2850 

To this effect ful wisely to enhorte 

The peple, that they sholde hem reconforte. 

Due Theseus, with al his bisy cure, 
Claste now, wher that the sepulture 

Of goode Arcite may best ymaked be, 2855 

And eek moost honurable in his degree. 
And at the laste he took conclusioun 
That ther as first Arcite and Palamoun 
Hadden for love the bataille hem bitwene, 
That in that selve grove swoote and grene 2860 

Ther as he hadde hise amorouse desires, 
His compleynte, and for love hise hoote fires 
He wolde make a fyr, in which the office 
Funeral he myghte al accomplice ; 

And leet comande anon to hakke and hewe 2865 

The okes olde, and leye hem on a rewe 
In colpons, wel arrayed for to brenne. 
Hise officers with swifte feet they renne 
And ryden anon at his comandement; 

And after this Theseus hath ysent 2870 

After a beere, and it al over-spradde 
With clooth of gold, the richeste that he hadde. 
And of the same suyte he cladde Arcite, 
Upon his hondes hadde he gloves white, 

Eek on his heed a coroune of laurer grene, 2875 

And in his hond a swerd ful bright and kene. 
He leyde hym bare the visage on the beere, 
Ther-with he weep that pitee was to heere. 

2854 cast. 


And for the peple sholde seen hym alle, 

Whan it was day, he broghte hym to the halle, 2880 

That roreth of the criyng and the soun. 

Tho cam this woful Theban, Palamoun, 

With flotery herd and rugged asshy heeres, 

In clothes blake, ydropped al with teeres, 

And passynge othere of wepynge Emelye, 2885 

The rewefulleste of al the compaignye. 

In as muche as the servyce sholde be 

The moore noble and riche in his degree, 

Due Theseus leet forth thre steedes brynge 

That trapped were in steel al gliterynge, 2890 

And covered with the armes of daun Arcite. 

Upon thise steedes that weren grete and white 

Ther sitten folk, of whiche oon baar his sheeld, 

Another his spere up in his hondes heeld, 

The thridde baar with hym his bowe Turkeys, 2895 

Of brend gold was the caas, and eek the harneys ; 

And riden forth a paas, with sorweful cheere, 

Toward the grove, as ye shul after heere. 

The nobleste of the Grekes that ther were 

Upon hir shuldres caryeden the beere, 2900 

With slakke paas, and eyen rede and wete, 

Thurghout the citee by the maister-strete, 

That sprad was al with blak, and wonder hye 

Right of the same is the strete ywrye. 

Upon the right hond wente olde Egeus, 2905 

And on that oother syde due Theseus, 

With vessel in hir hand of gold ful fyn, 

Al ful of hony, milk, and blood, and wyn. 

Eek Palamon, with ful greet compaignye, 

And after that cam woful Emelye, 2910 

With fyr in honde, as was that tyme the gyse, 

To do the office of funeral servyse. 

Heigh labour, and ful greet apparaillynge, 

2892 that weren om. 2894 up om. 2901 slak. 


Was at the service and the fyr makynge, 

That with his grene top the heven raughte, 29 15 

And twenty fadme of brede the armes straughte; 

This is to seyn, the bowes weren so brode. 

Of stree first ther was leyd ful many a lode, 

But how the fyr was maked upon highte, 

Ne eek the names that the trees highte, 2920 

As, ook, firre, birch, aspe, alder, holm, popeler, 

Wylugh, elm, plane, assh, box, chasteyn, lynde, laurer, 

Mapul, thorn, bech, hasel, ew, whippeltre, 

How they weren fild shal nat be toold for me, 

Ne how the goddes ronnen up and doun 2925 

Disherited of hir habitacioun, 

In whiche they woneden in reste and pees, 

Nymphes, Fawnes, and Amadrides; 

Ne how the beestes and the briddes alle 

Fledden for fere, whan the wode was falle ; 2930 

Ne how the ground agast was of the light, 

That was nat wont to seen the sonne bright ; 

Ne how the fyr was couched first with stree, 

And thanne with drye stokkes cloven a thre, 

And thanne with grene wode and spicerye, 2935 

And thanne with clooth of gold and with perrye, 

And gerlandes hangynge with ful many a flour, 

The mirre, thencens, with al so greet odour ; 

Ne how Arcite lay among al this, 

Ne what richesse aboute his body is, 2940 

Ne how that Emelye, as was the gyse, 

Putte in the fyr of funeral servyse ; 

Ne how she swowned whan men made the fyr, 

Ne what she spak, ne what was hir desir, 

Ne what jeweles men in the fyr caste, 2945 

Whan that the fyr was greet and brente f aste ; 

Ne how somme caste hir sheeld, and somme hir spere, 

And of hire vestimentz whiche that they were, 

2915 raughte om. 2943 the om. 


And coppes full of wyn, and milk, and blood, 

Into the fyr, that brente as it were wood, 2950 

Ne how the Grekes, with an huge route, 

Thryes riden al the place aboute, 

Upon the left hand with a loud shoutynge, 

And thries with hir speres claterynge, 

And thries how the ladyes gonne crye, . 2955 

And how that lad was homward Emelye; 

Ne how Arcite is brent to asshen colde, 

Ne how that lychewake was yholde 

Al thilke nyght, ne how the Grekes pleye 

The wakepleyes ne kepe I nat to seye, 2960 

Who wrastleth best naked, with oille enoynt, 

Ne who that baar hym best in no disjoynt; 

I wol nat tellen eek, how that they goon 

Hoom til Atthenes, whan the pley is doon; 

But shortly to the point thanne wol I wende, 2965 

And maken of my longe tale an ende. 

By processe, and by lengthe of certeyn yeres, 
Al stynted is the moornynge and the teres 
Of Grekes, by oon general assent. 

Thanne semed me ther was a parlement 2970 

At Atthenes, upon certein pointz and caas, 
Among the whiche pointz yspoken was 
To have with certein contrees alliaunce, 
And have fully of Thebans obeisaunce, 
For which this noble Theseus anon 2975 

Leet senden after gentil Palamon, 
Unwist of hym what was the cause and why. 
But in hise blake clothes sorwefully 
He cam at his comandement in hye; 

Tho sente Theseus for Emelye. 2980 

Whan they were set, and hust was al the place, 
And Theseus abiden hadde a space 
Er any word cam fram his wise brest, 

2952 Tries. 



Hise eyen sette he ther as was his lest, 

And with a sad visage he siked stille, 2985 

And after that right thus he seyde his wille. 

"The firste moevere of the cause above 
Whan he first made the faire cheyne of love, 
Greet was theffect, and heigh was his entente; 
Wei wiste he, why, and what therof he mente, 2990 

For with that faire cheyne of love he bond 
The fyr, the eyr, the water, and the lond, 
In certeyn boundes that they may nat flee. 
That same prince and that same moevere," quod he, 
"Hath stablissed in this wrecched world adoun 2995 

Certeyne dayes and duracioun 
To al that is engendred in this place, 
Over the whiche day they may nat pace ; 
Al mowe they yet tho dayes wel abregge, 
Ther nedeth noght noon auctoritee allegge, 3000 

For it is preeved by experience 
But that me list declaren my sentence. 
Thanne may men by this ordre wel discerne 
That thilke moevere stable is and eterne. 
Wel may men knowe, but it be a fool, 3005 

That every part dery veth from his hobl ; 
For nature hath nat taken his bigynnyng 
Of no partie nor cantel of a thyng, 
But of a thyng that parfit is and stable, 

Descendynge so til it be corrumpable; 3010 

And therfore, of his wise purveiaunce, 
He hath so wel biset his ordinaunce, 
That speces of thynges and progressiouns 
Shullen enduren by successiouns, 

And nat eterne, withouten any lye. 3015 

This maystow understonde and seen at eye. 
Lo the ook, that hath so long a norisshynge 
From tyme that it first bigynneth sprynge, 

2998 which. 3006 dirryueth. 8007 nat om. 8008 or of. 3016 at it. 


And hath so long a lif, as we may see, 

Yet at the laste wasted is the tree. 3020 

Considereth eek, how that the harde stoon 

Under oure f eet, on which we trede and goon, 

Yit wasteth it, as it lyth by the weye. 

The brode ryver somtyme wexeth dreye, 

The grete toures se we wane and wende, 3025 

Thanne may ye se that al this thyng hath ende. 

Of man and womman seen we wel also, 

That nedeth, in oon of thise termes two, 

This is to seyn, in youthe or elles age, 

He moot be deed, the kyng as shal a page. 3030 

Som in his bed, som in the depe see, 

Som in the large feeld, as men may se; 

Ther helpeth noght, al goth that ilke weye, 

Thanne may I seyn that al this thyng moot deye. 

What maketh this, but Juppiter the kyng, 3035 

That is prince and cause of alle thyng 

Convertyng al unto his propre welle 

From which it is deryved, sooth to telle, 

And heer agayns no creature on lyve 

Of no degree availleth for to stryve. 3040 

Thanne is it wysdom, as it thynketh me, 

To maken vertu of necessitee, 

And take it weel, that we may nat eschue ; 

And namely, that to us alle is due. 

And who so gruccheth ought, he dooth folye, 3045 

And rebel is to hym that al may gye. 

And certeinly, a man hath moost honour 

To dyen in his excellence and flour, 

Whan he is siker of his goode name, 

Thanne hath he doon his freend ne hym no shame. 3050 

And gladder oghte his freend been of his deeth, 

Whan with honour upyolden is his breeth, 

Than whan his name apalled is for age ; 

3034 that om. 3038 dirryued. 


For al forgeten is his vassellage. 

Thanne is it best as for a worthy fame, 3055 

To dyen whan that he is best of name. 

The .contrarie of al this is wilfulnesse: 

Why grucchen heere his cosyn and his wyf 

That goode Arcite, of chivalrie flour, 

Departed is with duetee and honour 3060 

Out of this foule prisoun of this lyf ? 

Why grucchen heere his cosyn and his wyf 

Of his welfare, that loved hem so weel ? 

Kan he hem thank ? Nay, God woot never a deel ! 

That bothe his soule and eek hemself offende, 3065 

And yet they mowe hir lustes nat amende. 

What may I concluden of this longe serye, 
But after wo I rede us to be merye, 
And thanken Juppiter of al his grace? 

And er that we departen from this place 3070 

I rede that we make, of sorwes two, 
O parfit joye lastyng everemo. 
And looketh now, wher moost sorwe is her inne, 
Ther wol we first amenden and bigynne. 

"Suster," quod he, "this is my fulle assent, 3075 

With all thavys heere of my parlement, 
That gentil Palamon thyn owene kynght, 
That serveth yow with wille, herte, and myght, 
And evere hath doon, syn that ye first hym knewe, 
That ye shul of your grace upon hym rewe, 3080 

And taken hym for housbonde and for lord. 
Lene me youre hond, for this is oure accord. 
Lat se now of youre wommanly pitee ; 
He is a kynges brother sone, pardee, 

And though he were a povre bacheler, 3085 

Syn he hath served yow so many a yeer, 
And had for yow so greet adversitee, 
It moste been considered, leeveth me, 

8071 that om. 



For gentil mercy oghte to passen right." 

Thanne seyde he thus to Palamon ful right: 3090 

"I trowe ther nedeth litel sermonyng 

To make yow assente to this thyng. 

Com neer, and taak youre lady by the hond." 

Bitv/ixen hem was maad anon the bond 

That highte matrimoigne, or mariage, 3095 

By al the conseil and the baronage. 
And thus with alle blisse and melodye 
Hath Palamon ywedded Emelye; 
And God, that al this wyde world hath wroght, 
Sende hym his love that hath it deere aboght! 3100 

For now is Palamon in alle wele, 
Lyvynge in blisse, in richesse, and in heele, 
And Emelye hym loveth so tendrely, 
And he hir serveth al so gentilly, 

That nevere was ther no word hem bitwene, 3105 

Of jalousie, or any oother teene. 
Thus endeth Palamon and Emelye, 
And God save al this faire compaignye ! Amen 

Heere is ended the knyghtes tale. 

S100 hath om. 3104 al om. 


Heere folwen the wordes bitwene the Hoost and the Millere 

Whan that the Knyght had thus his tale ytoold, 
In al the route ne was ther yong ne oold 3110 

That he ne seyde it was a noble storie, 
And worthy for to drawen to memorie ; 
And namely the gentils everichon. 
Oure Hooste lough, and swoor, "So moot I gon, 
This gooth aright, unbokeled is the male, 3115 

Lat se now who shal telle another tale, 
For trewely the game is wel bigonne. 
Now telleth on, sir Monk, if that ye konne 
Somwhat to quite with the Knyghtes tale." 
The Miller that for-dronken was al pale, 3120 

So that unnethe upon his hors he sat, 
He nolde avalen neither hood ne hat, 
Ne abyde no man for his curteisie, 
But in Pilates voys he gan to crie, 

And swoor by armes and by blood and bones, 3125 

"I kan a noble tale for the nones, 
With which I wol now quite the Knyghtes tale." 
Oure Hooste saugh that he was dronke of ale, 
And seyde, "Abyd, Robyn, my leeve brother, 
Som bettre man shal telle us first another, 3130 

Abyde, and lat us werken thriftily." 
"By Goddes soule," quod he, "that wol nat I, 
For I wol speke, or elles go my wey." 
Oure Hoost answerde, "Tel on, a devele wey ! 
Thou art a fool, thy wit is overcome! 3135 

81U, 3128, Hoost 


"Now herkneth," quod the Miller, "alle and some, 
But first I make a protestacioun 
That I am dronke, I knowe it by my soun; 
And therfore, if that I mysspeke or seye, 
Wyte it the ale of Southwerk I you preye. 3140 

For I wol telle a legende and a lyf 
Bothe of a carpenter and of his wyf, 
How that a clerk hath set the wrightes cappe." 
The Reve answerde and seyde, "Stynt thy clappe, 
Lat be thy lewed dronken harlotry e, 3145 

It is a synne and eek a greet folye 
To apeyren any man or hym defame, 
And eek to bryngen wyves in swich fame; 
Thou mayst ynogh of othere thynges seyn." 
This dronke Miller spak ful soone ageyn, 3150 

And seyde, "Leve brother Osewold, 
Who hath no wyf, he is no cokewold. 
But I sey nat therfore that thou art oon, 
Ther been ful goode wyves many oon, 

And evere a thousand goode ayeyns oon badde; 3155 

That knowestow wel thyself, but if thou madde. 
Why artow angry with my tale now? 
I have a wyf, pardee, as wel as thow, 
Yet nolde I for the oxen in my plogh 

Take upon me moore than ynogh, 3160 

As demen of myself that I were oon ; 
I wol bileve wel, that I am noon. 
An housbonde shal nat been inquisityf 
Of Goddes pryvetee, nor of his wyf. 

So he may fynde Goddes foysoun there, 3165 

Of the remenant nedeth nat enquere." 
What sholde I moore seyn, but this Miller 
He nolde his wordes for no man forbere, 
But tolde his cherles tale in his manere ; 

Me thynketh that I shal reherce it heere. 3170 

S140 you om. 


And therfore every gentil wight I preye, 
For Goddes love, demeth nat that I seye 
Of yvel entente, but that I moot reherce 
Hir tales alle, be they bettre or werse, 

Or elles falsen som of my mateere. 3175 

And therfore who-so list it nat yheere, 
Turne over the leef, and chese another tale; 
For he shal fynde ynowe, grete and smale, 
Of storial thyng that toucheth gentillesse, 
And eek moralitee, and hoolynesse. 3180 

Blameth nat me if that ye chese amys ; 
The Miller is a cherl, ye knowe wel this, 
So was the Reve, and othere manye mo, 
And harlotrie they tolden bothe two. 

Avyseth yow, and put me out of blame, 3185 

And eek men shal nat maken ernes t of game. 
8184 putteth. 


[One John, a rich and credulous carpenter of Oxford, is 
beguiled by his wife Alison, through Nicholas, a poor 
scholar boarding with them. Absolon, the parish clerk, is 
slighted by Alison; but wreaks vengeance on Nicholas.] 


The prologe of the Reves Tale. 

Whan folk hadde laughen at this nyce cas 3855 

Of Absolon and hende Nicholas, 
Diverse folk diversely they seyde, 
But for the moore part they loughe and pleyde, 
Ne at this tale I saugh no man hym greve, 
But it were oonly Osewold the Reve; 3860 

Bycause he was of carpenteres craft, 
A litel ire is in his herte ylaf t ; 
He gan to grucche, and blamed it a lite. 
"So theek/' quod he, "ful wel koude I yow quite, 
With bleryng of a proud milleres eye, 3865 

If that me liste speke of ribaudye. 
But ik am oold, me list no pley for age, 
Gras-tyme is doon, my fodder is now forage, 
This white top writeth myne olde yeris, 

Myn herte is also mowled as myne heris, 3870 

But if I fare as dooth an openers ; 
That ilke fruyt is ever leng the wers, 
Til it be roten in mullok or in stree. 
We olde men, I drede, so fare we, 

Til we be roten kan we nat be rype. 3875 

We hoppen ay whil that the world wol pype, 
For in oure wyl ther stiketh evere a nayl 
To have an hoor heed and a grene,tayl, 
As hath a leek, for thogh oure myght be goon, 
Oure wyl desireth folie evere in oon. 3880 

For whan we may nat doon, than wol we speke, 
Yet in oure asshen olde is fyr yreke. 
Foure gleedes han we whiche I shal devyse, 
Avauntyng, liyng, anger, coveitise; 

3870 mowled also. 


Thise foure sparkles longen unto eelde. 3885 

Oure olde lemes mowe wel been unweelde, 

But wyl ne shal nat faillen, that is sooth. 

And yet ik have alwey a coltes tooth, 

As many a yeer as it is passed henne 

Syn that my tappe of lif bigan to renne. 3890 

For sikerly whan I was bore, anon 

Deeth drough the tappe of lyf, and leet it gon, 

And ever sithe hath so the tappe yronne, 

Til that almoost al empty is the tonne. 

The streem of lyf now droppeth on the chymbe; 3895 

The sely tonge may wel rynge and chymbe 

Of wrecchednesse that passed is ful yoore. 

With olde folk, save dotage, is namoore." 

Whan that oure Hoost hadde herd this sermonyng, 
He gan to speke as lordly as a kyng, 3900 

He seide, "What amounteth al this wit? 
What shul we speke alday of hooly writ? 
The devel made a reve for to preche, 
And of a soutere, shipman, or a leche. 

Sey forth thy tale, and tarie nat the tyme. 3905 

Lo Depef ord, and it is half-wey pryme ; 
Lo, Grenewych, ther many a shrewe is inne ; 
It were al tyme thy tale to bigynne." 

"Now sires," quod this Osewold the Reve, 
"I pray yow alle, that ye nat yow greve, 3910 

Thogh I answere, and somdeel sette his howve, 
For leveful is with force force of-showve. 

This dronke Millere hath ytoold us heer, 
How that bigyled was a Carpenteer, 

Peraventure in scorn, for I am oon; 3915 

And by youre leve I shal hym quite anoon. 
Right in his cherles termes wol I speke, 
I pray to God his nekke mote breke ! 
He kan wel in myn eye seen a stalke, 
But in his owene he kan nat seen a bajke." 3920 



[Simkin, a rich thieving miller of Trumpington Mill, near 
Cambridge, is well served by two Cambridge clerks of the 
north country, who beguile his wife and daughter, recover 
the stolen meal which he had hid, and leave him well 


The prologe of the Cokes Tale. 

The Cook of London, whil the Reve spak, 4325 

For joye him thoughte, he clawed him on the bak. 
"Ha ! ha V quod he, "for Cristes passioun, 
This miller hadde a sharp conclusioun 
Upon his argument of herbergage. 

Wei seyde Salomon in his langage, 4330 

'Ne brynge nat every man into thyn hous/ 
For herberwynge by nyghte is perilous. 
Wei oghte a man avysed for to be, 
Whom that be broghte into his pryvetee. 
I pray to God so yeve me sorwe and care, 4335 

If evere sitthe I highte Hogge of Ware, 
Herde I a millere bettre yset awerk. 
He hadde a jape of malice in the derk. 
But God forbede that we stynte heere, 

And therfore, if ye vouche-sauf to heere 4340 

A tale of me that am a povre man, 
I wol yow telle, as wel as evere I kan, 
A litel jape that fil in oure citee." 
Oure Hoost answerde and seide, "I graunte it thee, 
Now telle on, Roger, looke that it be good, 4345 

For many a pastee hastow laten blood, 
And many a Jakke of Dovere hastow soold 
That hath been twies hoot and twies cold. 
Of many a pilgrim hastow Cristes curs, 
For of thy percely yet they fare the wors, 4350 

That they han eten with thy stubbel-goos, 
For in thy shoppe is many a flye loos. 
4825 whil that. 


Now telle on, gentil Roger, by thy name, 

But yet I pray thee, be nat wroth for game, 

A man may seye ful sooth in game and pley." 4355 

"Thou seist ful sooth," quod Roger, "by my fey ; 

But 'sooth pley quaad pley,' as the Flemyng seith. 

And ther-fore, Herry Bailly, by thy feith, 

Be thou nat wrooth, er we departen, 

Though that my tale be of an hostileer. 4360 

But nathelees I wol nat telle it yit, 

But er we parte, ywis, thou shalt be quit/' 

And ther-with-al he lough and made cheere, 

And seyde his tale, as ye shul after heere. 

4359 na. 

THE TALE (Unfinished). 

[Perkin, a London apprentice, being dismissed by his 
master, seeks his companions in dice, revel and disport.] 



The wordes of the Hoost to the compaignye. 

Oure Hooste saugh wel that the brighte sonne 
The ark of his artificial day hath ronne 
The f erthe part, and half an houre and moore ; 
And though he were nat depe expert in loore, 
He wiste it was the eightetethe day 5 

Of Aprill, that is messager to May ; 
And saugh wel, that the shadwe of every tree 
Was as in lengthe the same quantitee 
That was the body erect that caused it, 

And therfore by the shadwe he took his wit 10 

That Phebus, which that shoon so clere and brighte, 
Degrees was fy ve and f ourty clombe on highte ; 
And for that day, as in that latitude, 
It was ten at the clokke, he gan conclude, 
And sodeynly he plighte his hors aboute. 15 

"Lordynges," quod he, "I warne yow, al this route, 
The fourthe party of this day is gon. 
Now for the love of God and of Seint John, 
Leseth no tyme, as ferforth as ye may. 

Lordynges, the tyme wasteth nyght and day, 20 

And steleth from us, what pryvely slepynge, 
And what thurgh necligence in oure wakynge, 
As dooth the streem, that turneth nevere agayn, 
Descendyng fro the montaigne into playn. 
1 boost. 4 expert ystert. 5 efrhte and twentithe. 



Wei kan Senec and many a philosophre 25 

Biwaillen tyme, moore than gold in cofre. 

'For losse of catel may recovered be, 

But losse of tyme shendeth us/ quod he. 

It wol nat come agayn, withouten drede, 

Namoore than wole Malkynes maydenhede, 30 

Whan she hath lost it in hir wantownesse. 

Lat us nat mowlen thus in ydelnesse ; 

Sir man of lawe," quod he, "so have ye blis, 

Telle us a tale anon, as forward is. 

Ye been submytted thurgh youre free assent 35 

To stonden in this cas at my juggement. 

Acquiteth yow as now of youre biheeste, 

Thanne have ye do youre devoir atte leeste." 

"Hooste," quod he, "depardieux ich assente, 
To breke forward is nat myn entente. 40 

Biheste is dette, and I wole holde fayn 
Al my biheste, I kan no bettre sayn. 
For swich lawe as a man yeveth another wight, 
He sholde hymselven usen it by right; 

Thus wole oure text, but nathelees certeyn 45 

I kan right now no thrifty tale seyn ; 
But Chaucer, thogh he kan but lewedly 
On metres and on rymyng craftily, 
Hath seyd hem in swich Englissh as he kan, 
Of olde tyme, as knoweth many a man. 50 

And if he have noght seyd hem, leve brother, 
In o book, he hath seyd hem in another. 
For he hath toold of loveris up and doun 
Mo than Ovide made of mencioun, 

In hise Episteles that been ful olde ; 55 

What sholde I tellen hem, syn they ben tolde? 
In youthe he made of Ceys and Alcione, 
And sitthen hath he spoken of everichone 
Thise noble wyves and thise loveris eke. 
37 as om 89 Hoost. 47 But That. 55 epistles. 56 telle. 


Whoso that wole his large volume seke 60 

Cleped the Seintes Legende of Cupide, 
Ther may he seen the large woundes wyde 
Of Lucresse, and of Babilan Tesbee, 
The swerd of Dido for the false Enee, 

The tree of Phillis for hir Demophon, 65 

The pleinte of Dianire and Hermyon, 
Of Adriane and of Isiphilee, 
The bareyne yle stondynge in the see, 
The dreynte Leandre for his Erro, 

The teeris of Eleyne, and eek the wo 70 

Of Brixseyde, and of the, Ladomea, 
The crueltee of the, queene Medea, 
Thy litel children hangyng by the hals 
For thy Jason, that was in love so fals. 

O Ypermystra, Penolopee, Alceste, 75 

Youre wyf hede he comendeth with the beste ! 
But certeinly no word ne writeth he 
Of thilke wikke ensample of Canacee, 
That loved hir owene brother synfully 
Of swiche cursed stories I sey fy ! 80 

Or ellis of Tyro Appollonius, 
How that the cursed kyng Antiochus 
Birafte his doghter of hir maydenhede, 
That is so horrible a tale for to rede, 

Whan he hir threw upon the pavement. 5 

And therfore he, of ful avysement, 
Nolde nevere write, in none of his sermouns, 
Of swiche unkynde abhomynaciouns ; 
Ne I wol noon reherce, if that I may. 

But of my tale how shall I doon this day? ' 90 

Me were looth be likned, doutelees, 
To Muses that men clepe Pierides 
Methamorphosios woot what I mene 
But nathelees, I recche noght a bene 
66 Diane and of. 70 eek om. 71 of om. 



Though I come after hym with hawebake, 
I speke in prose, and lat him rymes make." 
And with that word he, with a sobre cheere, 
Bigan his tale, as ye shal after heere. 



The Prologe of the Marines Tale of Lawe. 

O hateful harm, condicion of poverte ! 

With thurst, with coold, with hunger so conf oundid ! 1 00 
To asken help thee shameth in thyn herte, 
If thou noon aske, so soore artow ywoundid 
That verray nede unwrappeth al thy wounde hid; 
Maugree thyn heed thou most for indigence 
Or stele, or begge, or borwe thy despence ! 105 

Thow blamest Crist, and seist ful bitterly 

He mysdeparteth richesse temporal. 

Thy neighebore thou wytest syn fully, 

And seist thou hast to lite and he hath al. 

"Parfay!" seistow, "somtyme he rekene shal, 110 

Whan that his tayl shal brennen in the gleede, 

For he noght helpeth needfulle in hir neede." 

Herkne what is the sentence of the wise, 

"Bet is to dyen than have indigence." 

Thy selve neighebor wol thee despise, 115 

If thou be povre, farwel thy reverence ! 

Yet of the wise man take this sentence, 

"Alle dayes of povre men been wikke ;" 

Be war therfore, er thou come to that prikke. 

If thou be povre, thy brother hateth thee, 120 

And alle thy f reendes fleen from thee ; alias, 
O riche marchauntz, ful of wele been yee ! 
O noble, o prudent folk, as in this cas ! 
Youre bagges been nat fild with ambes as, 
But with sys cynk, that renneth for youre chaunce, 125 

At Cristemasse myrie may ye daunce ! 
118 Herke. 


Ye seken lond and see for your wynnynges, 

As wise folk ye knowen all thestaat 

Of regnes ; ye been fadres of tydynges 

And tales, bothe of pees and of debaat. ISO 

I were right now of tales desolaat 

Nere that a marchant, goon is many a yeere^ 

Me taughte a tale, which that ye shal heere. 

Heere begynneth the Man of Lawe his Tale. 

In Surrye whilom dwelte a compaignye 

Of chapmen riche, and therto sadde and trewe, 135 

That wyde-where senten hir spicerye, 
Clothes of gold, and satyns riche of hewe. 
Hir chaffare was so thrifty and so newe 
That every wight hath deyntee to chaffare 
With hem, and eek to sellen hem hir ware, 140 

Now fil it, that the maistres of that sort 

Han shapen hem to Rome for to wende ; 

Were it for chapmanhode, or for disport, 

Noon oother message wolde they thider sende, 

But comen hemself to Rome, this is the ende, 145 

And in swich place as thoughte hem avantage 

For hir entente, they take hir herbergage. 

Sojourned han thise Marchantz in that toun 

A certein tyme, as fil to hire plesance. 

And so bifel, that thexcellent renoun 150 

Of the Emperoures doghter, Dame Custance, 

Reported was, with every circumstance 

Unto thise Surryen marchantz in swich wyse 

Fro day to day, as I shal yow devyse. 

151 Emperours. 153 a wyse. 


This was the commune voys of every man: 155 

"Oure Emperour of Rome, God hym see, 

A doghter hath, that syn the world bigan, 

To rekene as wel hir goodnesse as beautee, 

Nas nevere swich another as is shee. 

I prey to God in honour hir sustene 160 

And wolde she were of all Europe the queene ! 

In hir is heigh beautee, withoute pride, 

Yowthe, withoute grenehede or folye, 

To alle hir werkes vertu is hir gyde, 

Humblesse hath slayn in hir al tirannye, 165 

She is mirour of alle curteisye, 

Hir herte is verray chambre of hoolynesse, 

Hir hand ministre of fredam for almesse." 

And al this voys was sooth, as God is trewe ! 

But now to purpos, lat us turne agayn ; 170 

Thise marchantz han doon fraught hir shippes newe, 

And whan they han this blisful may den sayn, 

Hoom to Surrye been they went ful f ayn, 

And doon hir nedes as they han doon yoore, 

And lyven in wele, I kan sey yow namoore. 175 

Now fil it, that thise marchantz stode in grace 

Of hym, that was the Sowdan of Surrye. 

For whan they cam from any strange place, 

He wolde, of his benigne curteisye, 

Make hem good chiere, and bisily espye 180 

Tidynges of sondry regnes, for to leere 

The wondres that they myghte seen or heere. 

Amonges othere thynges, specially 

Thise marchantz han hym toold of dame Custance 

So greet noblesse, in ernest ceriously, 185 

That this Sowdan hath caught so greet plesance 



To ban hir figure in his remembrance, 

That all his lust and al his bisy cure 

Was for to love hir, while his lyf may dure. 

Paraventure in thilke large book, 

Which that men clipe the hevene, ywriten was 

With sterres, whan that he his birthe took, 

That he for love sholde han his deeth, alias ! 

For in the sterres clerer than is glas 

Is writen,, God woot, whoso koude it rede, 

The deeth of every man, withouten drede. 



In sterres many a wynter therbiforn 
Was writen the deeth of Ector, Achilles, 
Of Pompei, Julius, er they were born, 
The strif of Thebes, and of Ercules, 
Of Sampson, Turnus, and of Socrates 
The deeth, but mennes wittes ben so dulle 
That no wight kan wel rede it atte fulle. 


This Sowdan for his privee conseil sente, 

And, shortly of this matiere for to pace, 205 

He hath to hem declared his entente 

And seyde hem, certein, but he myghte have grace 

To han Custance withinne a litel space, 

He nas but deed ; and charged hem in hye 

To shapen for his lyf som remedy e. 210 

Diverse men diverse thynges seyden; 

They argumenten, casten up and doun, 

Many a subtil resoun forth they leyden, 

They speken of magyk and abusioun; 

But finally, as in conclusioun, 215 

They kan nat seen in that noon avantage> 

Ne in noon oother wey, save mariage. 


Thanne sawe they therin swich difficultee 

By wey of reson, for to speke al playn 

Bycause that ther was swich diversitee 220 

Bitwene hir bothe lawes, that they sayn 

They trowe that "no cristene prince wolde fayn 

Wedden his child under oure lawes swete 

That us were taught by Mahoun oure prophete." 

And he answerde: "Rather than I lese 225 

Custance, I wol be cristned, doutelees. 

I moot been hires, I may noon oother chese ; 

I prey yow, hoold youre argumentz in pees. 

Saveth my lyf, and beth noght recchelees 

To geten hir that hath my lyf in cure, 230 

For in this wo I may nat longe endure." 

What nedeth gretter dilatacioun? 

I seye, by tretys and embassadrye 

And by the popes mediacioun, 

And al the chirche and al the chivalrie, 235 

That in destruccioun of Mawmettrie 

And in encrees of Cristes lawe deere, 

They been acorded, so as ye shal heere, 

How that the Sowdan and his baronage 

And alle hise liges sholde ycristned be 240 

And he shal han Custance in mariage, 

And certein gold, I noot what quantitee, 

And heerto founden suffisant suretee. 

This same accord was sworn on eyther syde. 

Now, faire Custance, almyghty God thee gyde ! 245 

Now wolde som men waiten, as I gesse, 
That I sholde tellen al the purveiance 
That themperour, of his grete noblesse, 

243 sufficient. 


Hath shapen for his doghter dame distance; 

Wei may men knowen that so greet ordinance 250 

May no man tellen in a litel clause 

As was arrayed for so heigh a cause. 

Bisshopes been shapen with hir for to wende, 

Lordes, ladies, knyghtes of renoun, 

And oother folk ynogh, this is the ende, 255 

And notified is, thurghout the toun, 

That every wight with greet devocioun 

Sholde preyen Crist, that he this mariage 

Receyve in gree, and spede this viage. 

The day is comen of hir departynge, 260 

I seye, the woful day fatal is come, 

That ther may be no lenger tariynge, 

But forthward they hem dressen, alle and some. 

Custance, that was with sorwe al overcome, 

Ful pale arist, and dresseth hir to wende, 265 

For wel she seeth ther is noon oother ende. 

Alias, what wonder is it thogh she wepte, 

That shal be sent to strange nacioun 

Fro freendes that so tendrely hir kepte, 

And to be bounden under subjeccioun 270 

Of oon, she knoweth nat his condicioun ? 

Housbondes been alle goode, and han ben yoore, 

That knowen wyves ! I dar sey yow namoore. 

"Fader," she seyde, "thy wrecched child Custance, 

Thy yonge doghter, fostred up so softe, 275 

And ye my mooder, my soverayn plesance, 

Over alle thyng, out- taken Crist on-lofte, 

Custance, youre child, hir recomandeth ofte 

Unto your grace, for I shal to Surrye 

Ne shal I nevere seen yow moore with eye. 280 

255 thende. 


Alias ! unto the barbre nacioun 

I moste goon, syn that it is youre wille, 

But Crist, that starf for our savacioun, 

So yeve me grace hise heestes to fulfille, 

I, wrecche womman, no fors though I spille. 285 

Wommen are born to thraldom and penance, 

And to been under mannes governance." 

I trowe, at Troye whan Pirrus brak the wal, 

Or Ilion brende, ne at Thebes the Citee, 

Ne at Rome for the harm thurgh Hanybal 290 

That Romayns hath venquysshed tymes thre, 

Nas herd swich tendre wepyng for pitee 

As in the chambre was, for hir departynge ; 

But forth she moot, wher-so she wepe or synge. 

O firste moevyng crueel firmanent, 295 

With thy diurnal sweigh, that crowdest ay 

And hurlest al from Est til Occident 

That naturelly wolde holde another way, 

Thy crowdyng set the hevene in swich array 

At the bigynnyng of this fiers viage, 300 

That crueel Mars hath slayn this mariage. 

Infortunat ascendent tortuous, 

Of which the lord is helplees falle, alias ! 

Out of his angle into the derkeste hous. 

O Mars ! O Atazir ! as in this cas, 305 

O fieble Moone, unhappy been thy paas ! 

Thou knyttest thee, ther thou art nat receyved ; 

Ther thou were weel, fro thennes artow weyved. 

Imprudent Emperour of Rome, alias ! 

Was ther no philosophre in al thy toun? 310 

Is no tyme bet than oother in swich cas ? 

289 ne at om. 290 Nat. 



Of viage is ther noon eleccioun, 

Namely to folk of heigh condicioun, 

Noght whan a roote is of a burthe yknowe ? 

Alias, we been to lewed or to slowe ! 315 

To ship is brought this woful faire mayde 

Solempnely, with every circumstance, 

"Now Jesu Crist be with yow alle," she seyde. 

Ther nys namoore but, "Farewel faire Custance !" 

She peyneth hir to make good contenance, 320 

And forth I lete hir saille in this manere, 

And turne I wole agayn to my matere. 

The mooder of the Sowdan, welle of vyices, 
Espied hath hir sones pleyne entente, 

How he wol lete hise olde sacrifices, 325 

And right anon she for hir conseil sente, 
And they been come, to knowe what she mente, 
And whan assembled was this folk in feere, 
She sette hir doun, and seyde as ye shal heere. 

"Lordes," quod she, "ye knowen everichon, 330 

How that my sone in point is for to lete 

The hooly lawes of oure Alkaron, 

Yeven by Goddes message, Makomete. 

But oon avow to grete God I heete, 

The lyf shal rather out of my body sterte, 335 

Than Makometes la we out of myn herte ! 

What sholde us tyden of this newe lawe 

But thraldom to our bodies, and penance, 

And afterward in helle to be drawe 

For we reiieyed Mahoun oure creance? .^ 340 

But lordes, wol ye maken assurance 

As I shal seyn, assentynge to my loore, 

And I shal make us sauf for everemoore." 

816 brought come. 330 she seyd*>- 


They sworen and assenten every man 

To lyve with hir, and dye, and by hir stonde, 345 

And everich in the beste wise he kan 
To strengthen hir shal alle hise frendes fonde, 
And she hath this emprise ytake on honde, 
Which ye shal heren, that I shal devyse. 
And to hem alle she spak right in this wyse: 350 

"We shul first feyne us cristendqm to take, 

Coold water shal nat greve us but a lite 

And I shal swich a feeste and revel make, 

That as I trowe I shal the Sowdan quite ; 

For thogh his wyf be cristned never so white, 355 

She shal have nede to wasshe awey the rede, 

Thogh she a fontful water with hir lede !" 

O Sowdanesse, roote of iniquitee ! 
Virago, thou Semyrame the secounde ! 

O serpent under femynynytee, 360 

Lik to the serpent depe in helle ybounde ! 
O feyned womman, al that may confounde 
Vertu and innocence thurgh thy malice 
Is bred in thee, as nest of every vice ! 

O Sathan, envious syn thilke day 365 

That thou were chaced from oure heritage, 

Wei knowestow to wommen the olde way ! 

Thou madest Eva brynge us in servage ; 

Thou wolt fordoon this cristen mariage. 

Thyn instrument, so weylawey the while ! 370 

Makestow of wommen, whan thou wolt bigile ! 

This Sowdanesse, whom I thus blame and warie, 

Leet prively hir conseil goon hir way. 

What sholde I in this tale lenger tarie ? 

She rydeth to the Sowdan on a day 375 


And seyde hym, that she wolde reneye hir lay, 
And cristendom of preestes handes fonge, 
Repentynge hir she hethen was so longe ; 

Bisechynge hym to doon hir that honour 

That she moste han the cristen folk to feeste. 380 

"To plesen hem I wol do my labour." 

The Sowdan seith, "I wol doon at youre heeste," 

And knelynge thanketh hir of that requeste. 

So glad he was, he nyste what to seye ; 

She kiste hir sone, and hoome she gooth hir weye. 385 

Explicit prima pars. 

Sequitur pars sbcunda. 

Arryved been this cristen folk to londe, 
In Surrye, with a greet solempne route, 
And hastifliche this Sowdan sente his sonde 
First to his mooder and all the regne aboute, 
And seyde his wyf was comen, oute of doute, 390 

And preyde hir for to ryde agayn the queene, 
The honour of his regne to susteene. 

Greet was the prees, and riche was tharray 

Of Surryens and Romayns met yf eere ; 

The mooder of the Sowdan, riche and gay, 395 

Receyveth hir with also glad a cheere 

As any mooder myghte hir doghter deere, 

And to the nexte citee ther bisyde 

A softe paas solempnely they ryde. 

Noght trowe I the triumphe of Julius, 400 

Of which that Lucan maketh swich a boost, 

Was roialler, ne moore curius 

Than was thassemblee of this blisful hoost. 

402 ne or. 


But this scorpioun, this wikked goost, 

The Sowdanesse, for all hir flaterynge 405 

Caste under this ful mortally to stynge. 

The Sowdan comth hymself soone after this 

So roially, that wonder is to telle, 

And welcometh hir with alle joye and blis, 

And thus in murthe and joye I lete hem dwelle 410 

The fruyt of this matiere is that I telle. 

Whan tyme cam, men thoughte it for the beste, 

The revel stynte, and men goon to hir reste. 

The tyme cam, this olde Sowdanesse 

Ordeyned hath this feeste of which I tolde, 415 

And to the feeste cristen folk hem dresse 

In general, ye, bothe yonge and olde. 

Heere may men feeste and roialtee biholde, 

And deyntees mo than I kan yow devyse; 

But al to deere they boghte it er they ryse ! 420 

O sodeyn wo, that evere art successour 
To worldly blisse, spreynd with bitternesse ! 
The ende of the joye of oure worldly labour! 
Wo occupieth the fyn of oure gladnesse ! 
Herke this conseil for thy sikernesse, 425 

Upon thy glade day have in thy minde 
The unwar wo or harm that comth bihynde. 

For shortly for to tellen at o word, 

The Sowdan and the cristen everichone 

Been al tohewe and stiked at the bord, 430 

But it were oonly dame Custance allone. 

This olde Sowdanesse, cursed krone, 

Hath with hir freendes doon this cursed dede, 

For she hirself wolde all the contree lede. 

428 For soothly. 


Ne was ther Surryen noon, that was converted, 435 

That of the conseil of the Sowdan woot, 

That he nas al tohewe er he asterted. 

And distance han they take anon foot-hoot 

And in a ship all steerelees, God woot, 

They han hir set,, and biddeth hir lerne saille 440 

Out of Surrye agaynward to Ytaille. 

A certein tresor that she thider ladde, 

And, sooth to seyn, vitaille greet plentee 

They han hir yeven, and clothes eek she hadde, 

And forth she sailleth in the salte see. 445 

O my Custance, ful of benignytee, 

O emperoures yonge doghter deere, 

He that is lord of Fortune be thy steere ! 

She bless eth hir, and with ful pitous voys 

Unto the croys of Crist thus seyde she, 450 

"O cleere, o welful auter, hooly croys, 

Reed of the lambes blood, ful of pitee, 

That wesshe the world fro the olde iniquitee, 

Me fro the feend and fro his clawes kepe, 

That day that I shal drenchen in the depe. 455 

Victorious tree, proteccioun of trewe, 

That oonly worthy were for to bere 

The kyng of hevene with his woundes newe, 

The white lamb that hurt was with the spere, 

Flemer of feendes out of hym and here 460 

On which thy lymes feithfully extenden, 

Me keep, and yif me myght my lyf tamenden." 

Yeres and dayes fleteth this creature 

Thurghout the See of Grece unto the Strayte 

Of Marrok, as it was hir aventure. 465 

435 ther om. 442 thider with hir. 447 emperours. 451 welful woful 
462 keep helpe. 


On many a sory meel now may she bayte ; 
After hir deeth ful often may she wayte, 
Er that the wilde wawes wol hire dryve 
Unto the place ther she shal arryve. 

Men myghten asken why she was nat slayn? 470 

Eek at the feeste who myghte hir body save? 
And I answere to that demande agayn, 
Who saved Danyel in the horrible cave, 
Ther every wight save he, maister and knave, 
Was with the leoun f rete, er he asterte ? 475 

No wight but God, that he bar in his herte. 

God liste to shewe his wonderful myracle 

In hir, for we sholde seen his myghty werkis. 

Crist, which that is to every harm triacle, 

By certeine meenes ofte, as knowen clerkis, 480 

Booth thyng for certein ende, that ful derk is 

To mannes wit, that for oure ignorance 

Ne konne noght knowe his prudent purveiance. 

Now, sith she was nat at the feeste yslawe, 

Who kepte hir fro the drenchyng in the see? 485 

Wh kepte Jonas in the fisshes mawe 

Til he was spouted up at Nynyvee? 

Wei may men knowe it was no wight but he 

That kepte peple Ebrayk from hir drenchynge, 

With drye feet thurghout the see passynge. 49C. 

Who bad the foure spirites of tempest, 

That power han tanoyen lond and see, 

"Bothe north and south, and also west and est, 

Anoyeth neither see, ne land, ne tree?" 

Soothly, the comandour of that was he, 4Q5 

That fro the tempest ay this womman kepte, 

As wel eek when she wook as whan she slepte. 

407 eek om. 


Where myghte this womman mete and drynke have ? 

Thre yeer and moore how lasteth hir vitaille ? 

Who fedde the Egypcien Marie in the cave, 500 

Or in desert? no wight but Crist sanz faille. 

Fyve thousand folk it was as greet mervaille 

With loves f y ve and fisshes two to f cede ; 

God sente his foyson at hir grete neede. 

She dryveth forth into oure occian 505 

Thurghout oure wilde see, til atte laste 

Under an hoold that nempnen I ne kan, 

Fer in Northhumberlond, the wawe hir caste, 

And in the sond hir ship stiked so faste 

That thennes wolde it noght of al a tyde, 510 

The wyl of Crist was that she sholde abyde. 


The constable of the castel doun is fare 

To seen his wrak, and al the ship he soghte, 

And foond this wery womman ful of care, 

He foond also the tresor that she broghte, 515 

In hir langage mercy she bisoghte, 

The lyf out of hire body for to twynne, 

Hir to delivere of wo that she was inne. 

A maner Latyn corrupt was hir speche, 

But algates ther-by was she understonde. 520 

The constable, whan hym lyst no lenger seche, 

This woful womman broghte he to the londe. 

She kneleth doun and thanketh Goddes sonde ; 

But what she was, she wolde no man seye, 

For foul ne fair, thogh that she sholde deye. 525 

She seyde, she was so mazed in the see 
That she forgat hir mynde, by hir trouthe. 
The constable hath of hir so greet pitee, 
And eke his wyf, that they wepen for routhe. 


She was so diligent withouten slouthe 530 

To serve and plesen everich in that place, 
That alle hir loven that looken on hir face. 

This constable and dame Hermengyld his wyf 

Were payens^ and that contree every-where ; 

But Hermengyld loved hir right as hir lyf, 535 

And distance hath so longe sojourned there 

In orisons with many a bitter teere, 

Til Jesu hath converted thurgh his grace 

Dame Hermengyld, constablesse of that place. 

In al that lond no cristen dorste route, 540 

Alle cristen folk Been fled fro that contree 

Thurgh payens that conquereden al aboute 

The plages of the North by land and see. 

To Walys fledde the Cristyanytee 

Of olde Britons, dwellynge in this lie; 545 

Ther was hir refut for the meene-while. 

But yet nere cristene Britons so exiled 

That ther nere somme that in hir privetee 

Honoured Crjst, and hethen folk bigiled, 

And ny the castel swiche ther dwelten three; 550 

That oon of hem was blynd, and myghte nat see, 

But it were with thilke eyen of his mynde, 

With whiche men seen, after that they ben blynde. 

Bright was the sonne as in that someres day, 
For which the constable and his wyf also 555 

And Custance han ytake the righte way 
Toward the see, a furlong wey or two, 
To pleyen, and to romen, to and fro, 
And in hir walk this blynde man they mette, 
Croked and oold, with eyen faste yshette. 560 

531 plese. 553 after whan. 


"In name of Crist," cride this olde Britoun, 

"Dame Hermengyld, yif me my sighte agayn." 

This lady weex affrayed of the soun, 

Lest that hir housbonde, shortly for to sayn, 

Wolde hir for Jesu Cristes love han slayn, 565 

Til distance made hir boold, and bad hir wirche 

The wyl of Crist, as doghter of his chirche. 

The constable weex abasshed of that sight, 

And seyde, "What amounteth all this fare !" 

distance answerde, "Sire, it is Cristes myght, 570 

That helpeth folk out of the feendes snare." 

And so ferforth she gan oure lay declare, 

That she the constable, er that it were eve, 

Converteth, and on Crist maketh hym bileve. 

This constable was no-thyng lord of this place 575 

Of which I speke, ther he distance fond ; 

But kepte it strongly many wyntres space 

Under Alia, kyng of al Northhumbrelond, 

That was ful wys and worthy of his hond 

Agayn the Scottes, as men may wel heere; 580 

But turne I wole agayn to my mateere. 

Sathan, that ever us waiteth to bigile, 

Saugh of Custance al hir perfeccioun 

And caste anon how he myghte quite hir while ; 

And made a yong knyght, that dwelte in that toun, 585 

Love hir so hoote of foul affeccioun 

That verraily hym thoughte he sholde spille, 

But he of liir myghte ones have his wille. 

He woweth hir, but it availleth noght, 

She wolde do no synne, by no weye; 590 

And for despit he compassed in his thoght 

To maken hir on shameful deeth to deye. 


He wayteth whan the constable was aweye 

And pryvely upon a nyght he crepte 

In Hermengyldes chambre whil she slepte. 595 

Wery, for-waked in hir orisouns, 

Slepeth distance, and Hermengyld also. 

This knyght, thurgh Sathanas temptaciouns, 

All softely is to the bed ygo, 

And kitte the throte of Hermengyld atwo, 600 

And leyde the blody knyf by dame distance, 

And wente his wey, ther God yeve hym meschance ! 

Soone after cometh this constable hoom agayn, 

And eek Alia, that kyng was of that lond, 

And saugh his wyf despitously yslayn, 605 

For which ful ofte he weep and wroong his hond, 

And in the bed the blody knyf he fond 

By Dame Custance; alias, what myghte she seye? 

For verray wo hir wit was al aweye ! 

To kyng Alia was toold al this meschance, 610 

And eek the tyme, and where, and in what wise 

That in a ship was founden dame Custance, 

As heer-biforn that ye han herd.devyse. 

The kynges herte of pitee gan agryse, 

Whan he saugh so benigne a creature 615 

Falle in disese and in mysaventure. 

For as the lomb toward his deeth is broght, 
So stant this innocent bifore the kyng. 
This false knyght, that hath this tresoun wroght, 
Berth hir on hond that she hath doon thys thyng, 620 

But nathelees, ther was greet moornyng 
Among the peple, and seyn, they kan nat gesse 
That she had doon so greet a wikkednesse ; 
598 Sathans. 


For they han seyn hir evere so vertuous, 

And lovyng Hermengyld right as hir lyf ; 625 

Of this baar witnesse everich in that hous 

Save he that Hermengyld slow with his knyf. 

This gentil kyng hath caught a greet motyf 

Of this witnesse, and thoghte he wolde enquere 

Depper in this, a trouthe for to lere. 630 

Alias, distance, thou hast no champioun ! 

Ne fighte kanstow noght, so weylaway ! 

But he, that starf for our redempcioun, 

And boond Sathan and yet lith ther he lay 

So be thy stronge champion this day ! 635 

For but if Crist open myracle kithe, 

Withouten gilt thou shalt be slayn as swithe. 

She sette hir doun on knees, and thus she sayde, 

"Immortal God, that savedest Susanne 

Fro false blame, and thou, merciful Mayde, 640 

Marie I meene, doghter to Seynte Anne, 

Bifore whos child angeles synge Osanne, 

If I be giltlees of this felony e, 

My socour be, for ellis shal I dye." 

Have ye nat seyn som tyme a pale face 645 

Among a prees, of hym that hath be lad 
Toward his deeth, wher as hym gat no grace, 
And swich a colour in his face hath had, 
Men myghte knowe his face, that was bistad, 
Amonges alle the faces in that route? 650 

So stant Custance, and looketh hir aboute. 

O queenes, lyvynge in prosperitee, 
Duchesses, and ladyes everichone, 
Haveth som routhe on hir adversitee; 

An emperoures doghter stant allone, 655 

640 fals. 655 emperours. 



She hath no wight to whom to make hir mone. 
O blood roial, that stondest in this drede, 
Fer been thy f reendes at thy grete nede ! 

This Alia kyng hath swich compassioun, 
As gentil herte is fulfild of pitee, 660 

That from hise eyen ran the water doun. 
"Now hastily do fecche a book/' quod he, 
"And if this knyght wol sweren how that she 
This womman slow, yet wol we us avyse, 
Whom that we wole, that shal been oure justise." 665 

A Britoun book, written with Evaungiles, 

Was fet, and on this book he swoor anoon 

She gilty was, and in the meene-whiles 

An hand hym smoot upon the nekke-boon, 

That doun he fil atones, as a stoon ; 670 

And bothe hise eyen broste out of his face, 

In sighte of every body in that place. 

A voys was herd in general audience, 

And seyde, "Thou hast desclaundred giltelees 

The doghter of hooly chirche in heigh presence, 675 

Thus hastou doon, and yet holde I my pees." 

Of this mervaille agast was al the prees, 

As mazed folk they stoden everichone 

For drede of wreche, save Custance allone. 

Greet was the drede and eek the repentance 680 

Of hem that hadden wronge suspecioun 
Upon this sely innocent, Custance ; 
And for this miracle, in conclusioun, 
And by Custances mediacioun, 

The kyng, and many another in that place, 685 

Converted was, thanked be Cristes grace. 
674 giltlees. 


This false knyght was slayn for his untrouthe, 

By juggement of Alia hastifly 

And yet distance hadde of his deeth greet routhe 

And after this Jesus, of His mercy, 690 

Made Alia wedden fill solempnely 

This hooly mayden, that is so bright and sheene, 

And thus hath Crist ymaad Custance a queene. 

But who was woful, if I shal nat lye, 

Of this weddyng but Donegild, and namo, 695 

The kynges mooder, f ul of tirannye ? 

Hir thoughte hir cursed herte brast atwo, 

She wolde noght hir sone had do so, 

Hir thoughte a despit, that he sholde take 

So strange a creature unto his make. 700 

Me list nat of the chaf nor of the stree 

Maken so long a tale, as of the corn ; 

What sholde I tellen of the roialtee 

At mariages, or which cours goth biforn, 

Who bloweth in the trumpe, or in an horn? 705 

The fruyt of every tale is for to seye; 

They ete, and drynke, and daunce, and synge, and pleye. 

They goon to bedde, as it was skile and right, 

For thogh that wyves be ful hooly thynges, 

They moste take in pacience at nyght 710 

Swiche manere necessaries as been plesynges 

To folk that han ywedded hem with rynges, 

And leye a lite hir hoolynesse aside 

As for the tyme, it may no bet bitide. 

On hir he gat a knave childe anon, 715 

And to a bisshop and his constable eke 
He took his wyf to kepe, whan he is gon 
701 or. 


To Scotlondward, his foomen for to seke. 

Now faire distance, that is so humble and meke, 

So longe is goon with childe, til that stille 720 

She halt hire chambre, abidyng Cristes wille. 

The tyme is come, a knave child she beer, 

Mauricius at the fontstoon they hym calle. 

This constable dooth forth come a messageer, 

And wroot unto his kyng, that cleped was Alle, 725 

How that this blisful tidyng is bifalle, 

And othere tidynges spedeful for to seye ; 

He taketh the lettre, and forth he gooth his weye. 

This messager, to doon his avantage, 

Unto the kynges mooder rideth swithe, 730 

And salueth hir ful faire in his langage, 

"Madame," quod he, "ye may be glad and blithe, 

And thanketh God an hundred thousand sithe. 

My lady queene hath child, withouten doute, 

To joye and blisse to al this regne aboute. 735 

Lo, heere the lettres seled of this thyng, 

That I moot bere with al the haste I may. 

If ye wol aught unto youre sone, the kyng, 

I am youre servant bothe nyght and day." 

Donegild answerde, "As now at this tyme, nay, 740 

But heere al nyght I wol thou take thy reste, 

Tomorwe.wol I seye thee what me leste." 

This messager drank sadly ale and wyn, 

And stolen were hise lettres prively 

Out bf his box, whil he sleep as a swyn ; 745 

And countrefeted was ful subtilly 

Another lettre wroght ful synfully, 

Unto the kyng direct of this mateere 

his constable, as ye shal after heere. 


The lettre spak, the queene delivered was 750 

Of so horrible a feendly creature 

That in the castel noon so hardy was 

That any while dorste ther endure; 

The mooder was an elf, by aventure, 

Yeomen by charmes or by sorcerie, 755 

And every wight hateth hir compaignye. 

Wo was this kyng whan he this lettre had sayn, 

But to no wight he tolde his sorwes soore, 

But of his owene hand he wroot agayn: 

"Welcome the sonde of Crist for everemoore 760 

To me, that am now lerned in his loore. 

Lord, welcome be thy lust and thy plesaunce, 

My lust I putte al in thyn ordinaunce. 

Kepeth this child, al be it foul or feire, 

And eek my wyf, unto myn hoom-comynge ; 765 

Crist, whan hym list, may sende me an heir 

Moore agreable than this to my likynge." 

This lettre he seleth, pryvely wepynge, 

Which to the messager was take soone 

And forth he gooth, ther is namoore to doone. 770 

O messager, fulfild of dronkenesse, 
Strong is thy breeth, thy lymes faltren ay, 
And thou biwreyest alle secreenesse. 
Thy mynde is lorn, thou j anglest as a j ay, 
Thy face is turned in a newe array; 775 

Ther dronkenesse regneth in any route, 
Ther is no conseil hyd, withouten doute. 

O Donegild, I ne have noon Englissh digne 
Unto thy malice and thy tirannye ; 
And therfore to the feend I thee resigne, 78( 

Lat hym enditen of thy traitorie ! 
756 euerich hateth. 


Fy, mannysh, fy ! O nay, by God, I lye ! 
Fy, f eendlych spirit ! for I dar wel telle, 
Thogh thou heere walke, thy spirit is in helle. 

This messager comth fro the kyng agayn, 785 

And at the kynges moodres court he lighte 

And she was of this messager ful fayn, 

And plesed hym in al that ever she myghte. 

He drank, and wel his girdel underpighte. 

He slepeth, and he fnorteth in his gyse 790 

Al nyght until the sonne gan aryse. 

Eft were hise lettres stolen every chon 

And countrefeted lettres in this wyse, 

"The king comandeth his constable anon 

Up peyne of hangyng and on heigh juyse 795 

That he ne sholde suffren in no wyse 

Custance inwith his reawme for tabyde, 

Thre dayes and o quarter of a tyde. 

But in the same ship as he hir fond, 

Hir and hir yonge sone, and al hir geere, 800 

He sholde putte, and croude hir fro the lond, 

And chargen hir she never eft coome theere." 

O my Custance, wel may thy goost have fere, 

And slepynge in thy dreem been in penance, 

Whan Donegild cast al this ordinance. 805 

This messager, on morwe whan he wook, 
Unto the Castel halt the nexte way, 
And to the constable he the lettre took. 
And whan that he this pitous lettre say, 
Ful ofte he seyde, "Alias and weylaway!" 810 

"Lord Crist," quod he, "how may this world endure, 
So ful of synne is many a creature ? 

791 til. 



O myghty God, if that it be thy wille, 

Sith thou art rightful juge, how may it be 

That thou wolt suffren innocentz to spille, 

And wikked folk regnen in prosperitee ? 

O goode Custance, alias, so wo is me, 

That I moot be thy tormentour, or deye 

On shames deeth ! Ther is noon oother weye !" 

Wepen bothe yonge and olde in al that place, 
Whan that the kyng this cursed lettre sente, 
And Custance, with a deedly pale face, 
The ferthe day toward the ship she wente; 
But nathelees she taketh in good entente 
The wyl of Crist, and knelynge on the stronde, 
She seyde, "Lord, ay welcome be thy sonde ! 

He that me kepte fro the false blame, 

While I was on the lond amonges yow, 

He kan me kepe from harm and eek fro shame 

In salte see, al thogh I se noght how. 

As strong as evere he was, he is yet now ; 

In hym triste I, and in his mooder deere, 

That is to me my seyl and eek my steere." 

Hir litel child lay wepyng in hir arm, 
And knelynge, pitously to hym she seyde, 
"Pees, litel sone, I wol do thee noon harm." 
With that hir coverchief of hir heed she breyde, 
And over hise litel eyen she it leyde, 
And in hir arm she lulleth it ful faste, 
And into hevene hir eyen up she caste. 

"Mooder," quod she, "and mayde bright, Marie, 
Sooth is that thurgh wommanes eggement 
Mankynde was lorn and damned ay to dye, 
For which thy child was on a croys yrent; 
837 of over. 







Thy blisful eyen sawe al his torment; 845 

Thanne is ther no comparison bitwene 
Thy wo, and any wo man may sustene. 

Thow sawe thy child yslayn bifore thyne eyen, 

And yet now lyveth my litel child, parf ay. 

Now, lady bright, to whom alle woful cry en, 850 

Thow glorie of wommanhede, thow faire may, 

Thow haven of refut, brighte sterre of day, 

Rewe on my child, that of thy gentillesse 

Ruest on every reweful in distresse. 

O litel child, alias, what is thy gilt, 855 

That nevere wroghtest synne as yet, pardee ! 

Why wil thyn harde fader han thee spilt? 

O mercy, deere Constable," quod she, 

"As lat my litel child dwelle heer with thee ; 

And if thou darst nat saven hym for blame, 860 

Yet kys hym ones in his fadres name." 

Therwith she looketh bakward to the londe, 

And seyde, "Farewel, housbonde routhelees !" 

And up she rist, and walketh doun the stronde, 

Toward the ship. Hir folweth al the prees, 865 

And evere she preyeth hir child to holde his pees, 

And taketh hir leve, and with an hooly entente 

She blisseth hir, and into ship she wente. 

Vitailled was the ship, it is no drede, 

Habundantly for hir f ul longe space ; 870 

And othere necessaries that sholde nede 

She hadde ynogh, heried be Goddes grace ; 

For wynd and weder almyghty God purchace, 

And brynge hir hoom, I kan no bettre seye ! 

But in the see she dryveth forth hir weye. 875 

Explicit secunda pars. 
849 litel om. 


Sequitur pars tercia. 

Alia the kyng comth hoom, soone after this, 
Unto his castel of the which I tolde, 
And asketh where his wyf and his child is. 
The constable gan aboute his herte colde, 
And pleynly al the manere he hym tolde, 880 

As ye han herd, I kan telle it no bettre ; 
And sheweth the kyng his seel and eek his lettre, 

And seyde, "Lord, as ye comanded me, 

Up peyne of deeth, so have I doon, certein." 

This messager tormented was, til he 885 

Moste biknowe, and tellen plat and pleyn 

Fro nyght to nyght in what place he had leyn, 

And thus by wit and sotil enquerynge 

Ymagined was, by whom this harm gan sprynge. 

The hand was knowe that the lettre wroot, 890 

And al the venym of this cursed dede, 

But in what wise certeinly I noot. 

Theffect is this, that Alia, out of drede, 

His mooder slow, that may men pleynly rede, 

For that she traitoure was to hir ligeance, 895 

Thus endeth olde Donegild, with meschance ! 

The sorwe that this Alia, nyght and day, 
Maketh for his wyf, and for his child also, 
Ther is no tonge that it telle may 

But now wol I unto Custance go, 900 

That fleteth in the see in peyne and wo, 
Fyve yeer and moore, as liked Cristes sonde, 
Er that hir ship approched unto londe. 

Under an hethen castel, atte laste, 

Of which the name in my text npght I fynde, 905 

Custance and eek hir child the see upcaste. 

882 eek om. 903 the londe. 


Almyghty god that saved al mankynde, 

Have on distance and on hir child som mynde, ' 

That fallen is in hethen hand eft-soone, 

In point to spille, as I shal telle yow soone, 910 

Doun fro the castel comth ther many a wight 

To gauren on this ship and on distance, 

But shortly from the castel on a nyght 

The lordes styward, God yeve hym meschance ! 

A thefef that hadde reneyed oure creance, 915 

Cam into the ship allone, and seyde he sholde 

Hir lemman be, wherso she wolde or nolde. 

Wo was this wrecched womman tho bigon ! 

Hir child cride, and she cride pitously, 

But blisful Marie heelp hir right anon, 920 

For with hir struglyng wel and myghtily, 

The theef fil over bord al sodeynly, 

And in the see he dreynte for vengeance, 

And thus hath Crist unwemmed kept Custance. 

O foule lust of luxurie, lo, thyn ende ! 925 

Nat oonly that thou feyntest mannes mynde, 
But verraily thou wolt his body shende. 
Thende of thy werk or of thy lustes blynde 
Is compleynyng; hou many oon may men fynde, 
That noght for werk somtyme, but for thentente 930 

To doon this synne, been outher slayn or shente ! 

How may this wayke womman han this strengthe 

Hir to defende agayn this renegat? 

O Golias, unmesurable of lengthe, 

Hou myghte David make thee so maat, 935 

So yong, and of armure so desolaat ? 

Hou dorste he looke upon thy dredf ul face ? 

Wel may men seen, it nas but Goddes grace ! 


Who yaf Judith corage or hardynesse 

To sleen hym, Olofernus, in his tente, 940 

And to deliveren out of wrecchednesse 

The peple of God ? I seye, for this entente 

That right as God spirit of vigour sente 

To hern, and saved hem out of meschance, 

So sente he myght and vigour to Custance. 945 

Forth gooth hir ship thurghout the narwe mouth 

Of Jubaltar and Septe, dryvynge alway, 

Somtyme west, and somtyme north and south, 

And somtyme est, f ul many a wery day ; 

Til Cristes mooder blessed be she ay ! 950 

Hath shapen, thurgh hir endelees goodnesse, 

To make an ende of al hir hevynesse. 

Now lat us stynte of Custance but a throwe, 
And speke we of the Romayn Emperour, 
That out of Surrye hath by lettres knowe 955 

The slaughtre of cristen folk, and dishonour 
Doon to his doghter by a fals traytour, 
I mene the cursed wikked Sowdanesse, 
That at the f eeste leet sleen both moore and lesse ; 

For which this emperour hath sent anon 960 

His senatour with roial ordinance, 

And othere lordes, God woot many oon, 

On Surryens to taken heigh vengeance. 

They brennen, sleen, and brynge hem to meschance 

Ful many a day, but shortly, this is thende, 965 

Hoomward to Rome they shapen hem to wende. 

This senatour repaireth with victorie 

To Romeward saillynge ful roially, 

And mette the ship dryvynge, as seith the storie, 

In which Custance sit ful pitously. 970 

940 Oloferne. 


No thyng ne knew he what she was, ne why 
She was in swich array, ne she nyl seye 
Of hir estat, thogh that she sholde deye. 

He bryngeth hir to Rome, and to his wyf 

He yaf hir, and hir yonge sone also, 975 

And with the senatour she ladde hir lyf. 

Thus kan oure Lady bryngen out of wo 

Woful Custance, and many another mo. 

And longe tyme dwelled she in that place, 

In hooly werkes evere, as was hir grace. 980 

The senatoures wyf hir aunte was, 

But for all that she knew hir never the moore 

I wol no lenger tarien in this cas, 

But to kyng Alia, which I spake of yoore, 

That wepeth for his wyf and siketh soore, 985 

I wol retourne, and lete I wol Custance 

Under the senatoures governance. 

Kyng Alia, which that hadde his mooder slayn, 
Upon a day fil in swich repentance 

That, if I shortly tellen shal and playn, 990 

To Rome he comth, to receyven his penance, 
And putte hym in the popes ordinance 
In heigh and logh, and Jesu Crist bisoghte 
Foryeve hise wikked werkes that he wroghte. 

The fame anon thurgh Rome toun is born 995 

How Alia kyng shal comen on pilgrymage, 

By herbergeours that wenten hym biforn, 

For which the Senatour, as was usage, 

Rood hym agayns, and many of his lynage, 

As wel to shewen his heighe magnificence 1000 

As to doon any kyng a reverence. 

971 ne om. 973 that om. 981, 987 senatours. 



Greet cheere dooth this noble Senatour 

To kyng Alia, and he to hym also, 

Everich of hem dooth oother greet honour; 

And so bifel, that inwith a day or two 1005 

This senatour is to kyng Alia go 

To feste; and shortly, if I shal nat lye, 

distances sone wente in his compaignye. 

Som men wolde seyn, at requeste of distance 

This senatour hath lad this child to feeste; 1010 

I may nat tellen every circumstance, 

Be as be may, ther was he at the leeste, 

But sooth is this, that at his moodres heeste 

Biforn Alia durynge the metes space, 

The child stood lookynge in the kynges face. 1015 

This Alia kyng hath of this child greet wonder, 

And to the senatour he seyde anon, 

"Whos is that faire child, that stondeth yonder?" 

"I noot," quod he, "by God and by Seint John ! 

A mooder he hath, but fader hath he noon, 1020 

That I of woot." But shortly, in a stounde, 

He tolde Alia how that this child was founde. 

"But God woot," quod this senatour also, 

"So vertuous a lyver in my lyf 

Ne saugh I nevere as she, ne herde of mo 1025 

Of worldly wommen, mayde, ne of wy f ; 

I dar wel seyn, hir hadde levere a knyf 

Thurghout hir brest, than ben a womman wikke, 

There is no man koude brynge hir to that prikke." 

Now was this child as lyke unto Custance, 1030 

As possible is a creature to- be. 

This Alia hath the face in remembrance 

Of dame Custance, and theron mused he, 


If that the childes mooder were aught she 

That is his wyf ; and prively he sighte 1035 

And spedde hym fro the table that he myghte. 

"Parfay," thoghte he, "fantome is in myn heed. 

I oghte deme, of skilful juggement, 

That in the salte see my wyf is deed." 

And afterward he made his argument: 1040 

"What woot I, if that Crist have hyder ysent 

My wyf by see, as wel as he hir sente 

To my contree fro thennes that she wente ?" 

And, after noon, hoom with the senatour 

Goth Alia, for to seen this wonder chaunce. 1045 

This senatour dooth Alia greet honour, 

And hastifly he sente after Custance. 

But trusteth weel, hir liste nat to daunce 

Whan that she wiste wherf ore was that sonde ; 

Unnethe upon hir feet she myghte stonde. 1050 

Whan Alia saugh his wyf, faire he hir grette, 

And weep, that it was routhe for to see. 

For at the firste look he on hir sette, 

He knew wel verraily that it was she. 

And she for sorwe as doumb stant as a tree, 1055 

So was hir herte shet in hir distresse, 

Whan she remembred his unkyndenesse. 

Twyes she swowned in his owene sighte. 

He weep, and hym excuseth pitously. 

"Now God," quod he, "and alle hise halwes brighte 1060 

So wisly on my soule as have mercy, 

That of youre harm as giltelees am I 

As is Maurice my sone, so lyk youre face; 

Elles the f eend me f ecche out of this place !" 

1060 alle om. 1062 giltlees. 


Long was the sobbyng and the bitter peyne 1065 

Er that hir. woful hertes myghte cesse, 

Greet was the pitee for to heere hem pleyne, 

Thurgh whiche pleintes gan hir wo encresse. 

I pray yow alle my labour to relesse; 

I may nat telle hir wo until tomorwe, 1070 

I am so wery for to speke of sorwe. 

But finally, whan that the sothe is wist, 

That Alia giltelees was of hir wo, 

I trowe an hundred tymes been they kist, 

And swich a blisse is ther bitwix hem two, 1075 

That save the joye that lasteth everemo 

Ther is noon lyk that any creature 

Hath seyn, or shal, whil that the world may dure. 

Tho preyde she hir housbonde mekely, 

In relief of hir longe pitous pyne, 1080 

That he wolde preye hir fader specially 

That, of his magestee, he wolde enclyne 

To vouchesauf som day with hym to dyne. 

She preyde hym eek, he wolde by no weye 

Unto hir fader no word of hir seye. 1085 

Som men wolde seyn, how that the child Maurice 

Dooth this message unto this emperour, 

But, as I gesse, Alia was nat so nyce 

To hym that was of so sovereyn honour, 

As he that is of cristen folk the flour, 1090 

Sente any child, but it is bet to deeme 

He wente hymself, and so it may wel seeme. 

This emperour hath graunted gentilly 

To come to dyner, as he hym bisoughte, 

And wel rede I he looked bisily 1095 

1073 giltlees. 


Upon this child, and on his doghter thoghte. 
Alia goth to his in, and as him oghte 
Arrayed for this feste in every wise 
As ferforth as his konnyng may suffise. 

The morwe cam, and Alia gan hym dresse 1100 

And eek his wyf, this emperour to meete, 

And forth they ryde in joye and in gladnesse, 

And whan she saugh hir fader in the strete, 

She lighte doun and falleth hym to feete. 

"Fader/' quod she, "youre yonge child Custance 1105 

Is now ful clene out of youre remembrance. 

I am youre doghter Custance," quod she, 

"That whilom ye han sent unto Surrye. 

It am I, fader, that in the salte see 

Was put allone, and dampned for to dye. 1110 

Now goode fader, mercy I yow crye, 

Sende me namoore unto noon hethenesse, 

But thonketh my lord heere of his kyndenesse." 

Who kan the pitous joye tellen al 

Bitwixe hem thre, syn they been thus ymette ? 1115 

But of my tale make an ende I shal, 

The day goth faste, I wol no lenger lette. 

This glade folk to dyner they hem sette, 

In joye and blisse at mete I lete hem dwelle, 

A thousand f oold wel moore than I kan telle. 1120 

This child Maurice was sithen emperour 

Maad by the pope, and lyved cristenly. 

To Cristes chirche he dide greet honour; 

But I lete all his storie passen by 

Of Custance is my tale specially 1125 

In the olde Romayn geestes may men fynde 

Maurices lyf, I bere it noght in mynde. 



This kyng Alia, whan he his tyme say, 
With his distance, his hooly wyf so sweete, 
To Engelond been they come the righte way, 
Wher as they ly ve in j oye and in quiete. 
But litel while it lasteth, I yow heete, 
Joye of this world, for tyme wol nat abyde, 
Fro day to nyght it changeth as the tyde. 

Who lyved evere in swich delit o day 
That hym ne moeved outher conscience 
Or ire, or talent, or som-kyn affray, 
Envye, or pride, or passion, or offence ? 
I ne seye but for this ende this sentence, 
That litel while in joye or in plesance 
Lasteth the bliss e of Alia with Custance. 




For deeth, that taketh of heigh and logh his rente, 

Whan passed was a yeer, evene as I gesse, 

Out of this world this kyng Alia he hente, 

For whom Custance hath ful greet hevynesse. J145 

Now lat us praye God his soule blesse, 

And dame Custance, finally to seye, 

Toward the toun of Rome goth hir weye. 

To Rome is come this hooly creature, 

And fyndeth ther hir freendes hoole and sounde. 1150 

Now is she scaped al hire aventure, 

And whan that she hir fader hath yfounde, 

Doun on hir knees falleth she to grounde, 

Wepynge for tendrenesse, in herte blithe, 

She heryeth God an hundred thousand sithe. 1155 

In vertu and in hooly almus-dede 
They lyven alle, and never asonder wende 
Til deeth departed hem; this lyf they lede; 
1187 kynnes. 1150 ther om. 1156 in om. 


And fareth now weel, my tale is at an ende. 

Now Jesu Crist, that of his myght may sende 1160 

Joye after wo, governe us in his grace, 

And kepe us alle that been in this place. Amen. 

Heere endeth the tale of the Man of Lowe. 


Here endith the man of lawe his tale. And next folwith 
the Shipman his prolog. 

Oure Ost upon his stiropes stood anoon, 
And seide, "Good men, herkeneth everychoon; 
This was a thrifty tale for the nonys. 1165 

Sir parisshe preste," quod he, "for Godis bonys, 
Telle us a tale, as was thi forward yore ; 
I se wel, that ye lernede men in lore 
Can meche good, bi Godis dignite." 

The parson him answerde, "Benedicite, 1170 

What eyleth the man so synfully to swere?" 
Oure Ost answerde, "O Jankyn, be ye there ? 
I smelle a Lollere in the wynde," quod he, 
"Howe, goodmen," quod oure Hoste, "herkeneth me, 
Abyde for Godis digne passioun, 1175 

For we shul han a predicacioun, 
This Lollere here wol prechen us somwhat." 
"Nay, bi Godis soule, that shal he nat," 
Seyde the Shipman, "here shal he not preche, 
He shal no gospel glosen here, ne teche. 1180 

We leven alle in the grete God," quod he, 
"He wolde sowen som difficulte 
Or sprengen cokkel in oure clene corn. 
And therfore, Ost, I warne the biforn, 

My joly body shal a tale telle 1185 

And I shal clynkyn yow so mery a belle 
That I shal wakyn al this companye ; 
But it shal not ben of Philosophic, 
Ne phislyas, ne termes queynte of lawe; 
Ther nis but litil Latyn in my mawe." 11 90 

1174 Ost. 1190 is. 


Here endith the Shipman his prolog. And next folwyng 
he bigynneth his tale. 


[Daun John, a monk of Paris, beguiles the wife of a 
merchant of St. Denis by money borrowed from her husband. 
She saves herself, on the point of discovery, by a ready 


Bihoold the murie wordes of the Hoost to the Shipman 
and to the lady Prioresse. 

"Wei seyd, by corpus dominus," quod our Hoost, 1625 
"Now longe moote thou saille by the cost, 
Sir gentil maister, gentil maryneer. 
God yeve this monk a thousand last quade yeer ! 
A ha! felawes, beth ware of swich a jape. 
The monk putte in the mannes hood an ape, 1630 

And in his wyves eek, by Seint Austyn; 
Draweth no monkes moore unto your in. 
But now passe over, and lat us seke aboute, 
Who shal now telle first of al this route 

Another tale?" and with that word he sayde, 1635 

As curteisly as it had ben a mayde, 
"My lady Prioresse, by youre leve, 
So that I wiste I sholde yow nat greve, 
I wolde demen that ye tellen sholde 

A tale next, if so were that ye wolde. 1640 

Now wol ye vouchesauf , my lady deere ?" 
"Gladly," quod she, and seyde as ye shal heere. 


The prologe of the Prioresses tale. 
Domine dominus noster. 

O lord cure lord, thy name how merveillous 
Is in this large world ysprad quod she 
For noght oonly thy laude precious 1645 

Parfourned is by men of dignitee, 
But by the mouth of children thy bountee 
Parfourned is., for on the brest soukynge 
Somtyme shewen they thyn heriynge. 

Wherfore in laude, as I best kan or may, 1650 

Of thee, and of the whyte lylye flour 

Which that the bar, and is a mayde alway, 

To telle a storie I wol do my labour ; 

Nat that I may encreessen hir honour, 

For she hirself is honour, and the roote 1655 

Of bountee, next hir sone, and soules boote. 

O mooder mayde ! O mayde mooder f re ! 

O bussh unbrent, brennynge in Moyses sighte, 

That ravysedest doun fro the deitee 

Thurgh thyn humblesse, the goost that in thalighte, 1660 

Of whos vertu, whan he thyn herte lighte, 

Conceyved was the Fadres sapience, 

Help me to telle it in thy reverence. 

Lady, thy bountee, thy magnificence, 

Thy vertu, and thy grete humylitee, 1665 

Ther may no tonge expresse in no science, 

For somtyme, lady, er men praye to thee, 

Thou goost biforn of thy benyngnytee 

And getest us the lyght, thurgh thy preyere, 

To gyden us unto thy sone so deere. 1670 

1651 whyte. 1669 thurgh lyght of. 


My konnyng is so wayk, O blisful queene, 

For to declare thy grete worthynesse, 

That I ne may the weighte nat susteene, 

But as a child of twelf monthe oold, or lesse, 

That kan unnethes any word expresse, 1675 

Right so fare I ; and therf ore I yow preye, 

Gydeth my song that I shal of yow seye. 

Heere bigynneth the Prioresses Tale. 

Ther was in Asye, in a greet citee, 
Amonges cristene folk a Jewerye, 

Sustened by a lord of that contree 1680 

For foule usure and lucre of vileynye, 
Hateful to Crist and to his compaignye, 
And thurgh this strete men myghte ride or wende, 
For it was free and open at eyther ende. 

A litel scole of cristen folk ther stood 1685 

Doun at the ferther ende, in which ther were 

Children an heep, yeomen of cristen blood, 

That lerned in that scole yeer by yere 

Swich manere doctrine as men used there, 

This is to seyn, to syngen and to rede, 1690 

As smale children doon in hir childhede. 

Among thise children was a wydwes sone, 

A litel clergeoun, seven yeer of age, 

That day by day to scole was his wone, 

And eek also, wher as he saugh thymage 16Q5 

Of Cristes mooder, he hadde in usage 

As hym was taught, to knele adoun, and seye 

His Ave Marie, as he goth by the weye. 

1675 unnethe. 


Thus hath this wydwe hir litel sone ytaught 

Oure blisful lady, Cristes mooder deere, 1700 

To worshipe ay ; and he f orgate it naught, 

For sely child wol alday soone leere. 

But ay, whan I remembre on this mateere, 

Seint Nicholas stant evere in my presence, 

For he so yong to Crist dide reverence. 1705 

This litel child, his litel book lernynge, 

As he sat in the scole at his prymer, 

He "Alma redemptoris" herde synge 

As children lerned hir anthiphoner ; 

And as he dorste, he drough hym ner and ner, 1710 

And herkned ay the wordes and the noote, 

Til he the firste vers koude al by rote. 

Noght wiste he what this Latyn was to seye, 

For he so yong and tendre was of age, 

But on a day his felawe gan he preye 1715 

Texpounden hym this song in his langage, 

Or telle hym why this song was in usage ; 

This preyde he hym to construe and declare 

Ful often tyme upon hise knowes bare. 

His felawe, which that elder was than he, 1720 

Answerde hym thus, "This song, I have herd seye, 

Was maked of oure blisful Lady free, 

Hir to salue, and eek hir for to preye 

To been our help, and socour whan we deye. 

I kan namoore expounde in this mateere, 1725 

I lerne song, I kan but smal grammere." 

"And is this song maked in reverence 

Of Cristes mooder?" seyde this innocent. 

"Now, certes, I wol do my diligence 

To konne it al, er Cristemasse is went; 1730 


Though that I for my prymer shal be shent 

And shal be beten thries in an houre, 

I wol it konne, oure lady for to honoure." 

His felawe taughte hym homward prively 

Fro day to day, til he koude it by rote; 1735 

And thanne he song it wel and boldely 

Fro word to word acordynge with the note. 

Twies a day it passed thurgh his throte, 

To scoleward, and homward whan he wente; 

On Cristes mooder set was his entente. 1740 

As I have seyd, thurghout the Jewerie 
This litel child, as he cam to and fro, 
.Ful murily than wolde he synge and crie 
"O Alma redemptoris" evere-mo. 

The swetnesse hath his herte perced so 1745 

Of Cristes mooder, that to hir to preye 
He kan nat stynte of syngyng by the weye. 

Oure firste foo, the serpent Sathanas, 
That hath in Jewes herte his waspes nest, 
Up swal, and seyde, "O Hebrayk peple, alias, 1750 

Is this to yow a thyng that is honest, 
That swich a boy shal walken as hym lest 
In youre despit, and synge of swich sentence, 
Which is agayn oure lawes reverence?" 

Fro thennes forth the Jewes han conspired 1755 

Thi innocent out of this world to chace. 

An homycide therto han they hyred 

That in an aleye hadde a privee place ; 

And as the child gan forby for to pace, 

This cursed Jew hym hente and heeld hym faste, 1760 

And kitte his throte, and in a pit hym caste. 

1741 Jueriee. 1748 than om. 1745 hath om. 1749, 1755, Jues. 



I seye that in a wardrobe they hym threwe, 

Where as thise Jewes purgen hire entraille. 

O cursed folk of Herodes al newe, 

What may youre yvel entente yow availle? 1765 

Mordre wol out, certeyn, it wol nat faille, 

And namely ther thonour of God shal sprede, 

The blood out crieth on youre cursed dede. 

O martir, sowded to virginitee, 

Now maystow syngen, folwynge evere in oon 1770 

The white lamb celestial quod she 

Of which the grete Evaungelist Seint John 

In Pathmos wroot, which seith that they that goon 

Biforn this lamb and synge a song al newe, 

That never, fleshly, wommen they ne knewe. 1775 

This povre wydwe awaiteth al that nyght 
After hir litel child, but he cam noght; 
For which, as soone as it was dayes lyght, 
With face pale of drede and bisy thoght, 
She hath at scole and elles-where hym soght, 1780 

Til finally she gan so fer espie, 
That he last seyn was in the Jewerie. 

With moodres pitee in hir brest enclosed, 

She gooth, as she were half out of hir mynde, 

To every place where she hath supposed 1785 

By liklihede hir litel child to finde, 

And evere on Cristes mooder, meeke and kynde, 

She cride, and atte laste thus she wroghte, 

Among the cursed Jewes she hym soghte. 

She frayneth, and she preyeth pitously 1790 

To every Jew that dwelte in thilke place, 
To telle hir if hir child wente oght forby. 
They seyde nay ; but Jesu, of his grace, 

1782 Juerie. 1789 Jues. 


Yaf in hir thoght, inwith a litel space, 

That in that place after hir sone she cryde, 1795 

Wher he was casten in a pit bisyde. 

O grete God, that parfournest thy laude 
By mouth of innocentz, lo, heer thy myght ! 
This gemme of chastite, this emeraude, 

And eek of martirdom the ruby bright, 1800 

Ther he with throte ykorven lay upright, 
He "Alma redemptoris" gan to synge 
So loude, that al the place gan to rynge. 

The cristene folk that thurgh the strete wente 
In coomen, for to wondre upon this thyng, 1805 

And hastily they for the Provost sente. 
He cam anon withouten tariyng, 
And herieth Crist that is of hevene kyng, 
And eek his mooder, honour of mankynde; 
And after that, the Jewes leet he bynde. 1810 

This child, with pitous lamentacioun, 
Uptaken was, syngynge his song alway, 
And with honour of greet processioun 
They carien hym unto the nexte abbay ; 

His mooder swownynge by his beere lay, 1815 

Unnethe myghte the peple that was theere 
This newe Rachel brynge fro his beere. 

With torment and with shameful deeth echon 
This Provost dooth the Jewes for to sterve, 
That of this mordre wiste, and that anon. 1820 

He nolde no swich cursednesse observe; 
Yvele shal have that yvele wol deserve. 
Therfore with wilde hors he dide hem drawe, 
And after that he heng hem, by the lawe. 
1822 he have. 


Upon his beere ay lith this innocent 1825 

Biforn the chief auter, whil masse laste, 

And after that, the abbot with his covent 

Han sped hem for to burien hym ful faste, 

And whan they hooly water on hym caste, 

Yet spak this child, whan spreynd was hooly water, 1830 

And song "O Alma redemptoris mater." 

This abbot, which that was an hooly man, 

As monkes been or elles oghte be 

This yonge child to conjure he bigan, 

And seyde, "O deere child, I halse thee, 1835 

In vertu of the hooly Trinitee ; 

Tel me, what is thy cause for to synge 

Sith that thy throte is kut, to my semynge." 

"My throte is kut unto my nekke-boon," 

Seyde this child, "and, as by wey of kynde, 1840 

I sholde have dyed, ye, longe tyme agon, 

But Jesu Crist, as ye in bookes fynde, 

Wil that his glorie laste and be in mynde, 

And for the worship of his mooder deere, 

Yet may I synge "O Alma" loude and cleere. 1845 

This welle of mercy, Cristes mooder swete, 

I loved alwey as after my konnynge; 

And whan that I my lyf sholde forlete, 

To me she cam, and bad me for to synge 

This antheme, verraily, in my deyynge, 1850 

As ye han herd, and whan that I hadde songe, 

Me thoughte she leyde'a greyn upon my tonge. 

Wherfore I synge, and synge I moot certeyn 
In honour of that blisful mayden free, 

Til fro my tonge oftaken is the greyn. 1855 

1825 his this. 1826 the masse. 1835 halsen. 1850 anthephon. 


And afterward thus seyde she to me, 
'My litel child, now wol I fecche thee, 
Whan that the greyn is fro thy tonge ytake ; 
Be nat agast, I wol thee nat forsake/ " 

This hooly monk, this Abbot, hym meene I, I860 

His tonge out-caughte, and took awey the greyn, 

And he yaf up the goost f ul softely ; 

And whan this Abbot hadde this wonder seyn, 

Hise salte teeris trikled doun as reyn, 

And gruf he fil al plat upon the grounde, 1865 

And stille he lay, as he had been ybounde. 

The covent eek lay on the pavement, 

Wepynge, and heryen Cristes mooder deere. 

And after that they ryse, and forth been went, 

And tooken awey this martir from his beere, 1870 

And in a temple of marbul stones cleere 

Enclosen they his litel body sweete. 

Ther he is now, God leve us for to meete ! 

O yonge Hugh of Lyncoln, slayn also 

With cursed Jewes, as it is notable, 1875 

For it nis but a litel while ago, 

Preye eek for us, we synful folk unstable, 

That of his mercy God so merciable 

On us his grete mercy multiplie, 

For reverence of his mooder Marie. Amen. 1880 

1866 been leyn. 1873 alle for. 1876 is. 

Hcere is ended the Prioresses Tale. 


Bihoold the murye wordes of the Hoost to Chaucer. 

Whan seyd was al this miracle, every man 
As sobre was, that wonder was to se, 
Til that oure Hooste japen tho bigan, 
And thanne at erst he looked upon me, 
And seyde thus, "What man artow," quod he, 
"Thou lookest as thou woldest fynde an hare, 
For ever upon the ground I se thee stare. 


Approche neer, and looke up murily ; 

Now war yow, sires, and lat this man have place. 

He in the waast is shape as wel as I ; 

This were a popet in an arm tenbrace 

For any womman smal, and fair of face. 

He semeth elvyssh by his contenaunce, 

For unto no wight dooth he daliaunce. 

Sey now somwhat, syn oother folk han sayd, 

Telle us a tale of myrthe, and that anon." 

"Hooste," quod I, "ne beth nat yvele apayed, 

For oother tale certes kan I noon 

But of a ryme I lerned longe agoon." 

"Ye, that is good," quod he, "now shul we heere 

Som deyntee thyng, me thynketh by his cheere." 

1383, 1897, Hoost; tho to. 1899 rym. 1900 we ye. 





Heere bigynneth Chaucers tale of Thopas. 

Listeth, lordes, in good entent, 
And I wol telle verrayment 

Of myrthe and of solas, 

Al of a knyght was fair and gent 1905 

In bataille and in tourneyment, 

His name was Sir Thopas. 

Yborn he was in fer contree, 

In Flaundres, al biyonde the see, 

At Poperyng in the place; 1910 

His fader was a man ful free, 
And lord he was of that contree, 

As it was Goddes grace. 

Sir Thopas wax a doghty swayn, 

Whit was his face as payndemayn, 1915 

Hise lippes rede as rose ; 
His rode is lyk scarlet in grayn, 
And I yow telle, in good certayn, 

He hadde a semely nose. 

His heer, his berd, was lyk saffroun, 1920 

That to his girdel raughte adoun ; 

Hise shoon of Cordewane. 
Of Brugges were his hosen broun, 
His robe was of syklatoun 

That coste many a jane. 1925 

He koude hunte at wilde deer, 
And ride an haukyng for river, 
With grey goshauk on honde^ 

1922 shoos. 


Therto he was a good archeer. 

Of wrastlyng was ther noon his peer, 1930 

Ther any ram shal stonde. 

Fill many a mayde, bright in hour, 
They moorne for hym, paramour, 

Whan hem were bet to slepe; 

But he was chaast and no lechour, 1935 

And sweete as is the brembulflour 

That bereth the rede hepe. 

And so bifel upon a day, 
Forsothe as I yow telle may, 

Sir Thopas wolde out ride; 1940 

He worth upon his steede gray, 
And in his hand a launcegay, 

A long swerd by his side. 

He priketh thurgh a fair forest, 

Therinne is many a wilde best, 1945 

Ye, bothe bukke and hare, 
And as he priketh north and est, 
I telle it yow, hym hadde almest 

Bitidde a sory care. 

Ther spryngen herbes, grete and smale, 1950 

The lycorys and cetewale, 

And many a clowe-gylofre, 
And notemuge to putte in ale, 
Wheither it be moyste or stale, 

Or for to leye in cofre. 1955 

The briddes synge, it is no nay, 
The sparhauk and the papejay 

That joye it was to heere, 
The thrustelcok made eek hir lay, 
The wodedowve upon a spray I960 

She sang ful loude and cleere. 



Sir Thopas fil in love-longynge, 

Al whan he herde the thrustel synge, ' 

And pryked as he were wood; 
His faire steede in his prikynge 
So swatte that men myghte him wrynge, 

His sydes were al blood. 

Sir Thopas eek so wery was 
For prikyng on the softe gras, 

So fiers was his corage, 
That doun he leyde him in that plas 
To make his steede som solas, 

And yaf hym good forage. 

"O seinte Marie, benedicite, 
What eyleth this love at me 

To bynde me so soore? 
Me dremed al this nyght, pardee, 
An elf-queene shal my lemman be, 

And slepe under my goore. 

An elf-queene wol -I love, y wis, 
For in this world no womman is 

Worthy to be my make 

In towne; 

Alle othere wommen I forsake, 
And to an elf-queene I me take 

By dale and eek by downe." 

Into his sadel he clamb anon, 
And priketh over stile and stoon 

An elf-queene for tespye, 
Til he so longe hadde riden and goon 
That he foond, in a pryve woon, 

The contree of Fairye 

So wilde; 








For in that contree was ther noon 

That to him dorste ryde or goon, 1995 

Neither wyf ne childe, 

Til that ther cam a greet geaunt, 
His name was Sir Olifaunt, 

A perilous man of dede; 

He seyde "Child, by Termagaunt, 2000 

But if thou prike out of myn haunt, 

Anon I sle thy steede 

With mace. 

Heere is the queene of Fayerye, 
With harpe and pipe and symphonye, 2005 

Dwellyng in this place." 

The child seyde, "Also moote I thee, 
Tomorwe wol I meete with thee, 

Whan I have myn armoure. 

And yet I hope, par ma fay, 2010 

That thou shalt with this launcegay 

Abyen it ful sowre. 

Thy mawe 

Shal I percen if I may 
Er it be fully pryme of day, 2015 

For heere thow shalt be slawe." 

Sir Thopas drow abak ful faste, 
This geant at hym stones caste 

Out of a f el staf-slynge ; 

But faire escapeth Child Thopas, 2020 

And al it was thurgh Goddes gras, 

And thurgh his fair berynge. 

Yet listeth, lordes, to my tale, 
Murier than the nightyngale, 

For now I wol yow rowne 2025 

1995 line om. 2004 Fairye. 2020 Child Sir. 2025 For now om. 


How Sir Thopas, with sydes smale, 
Prikyng over hill and dale 
Is comen agayn to towne. 

His murie men comanded he 

To make hym bothe game and glee, 2030 

For nedes moste he fighte 
With a geaunt with hevedes three, 
For paramour and jolitee 

Of oon that shoon ful brighte. 

"Do come," he seyde, "my mynstrales, 2035 

And geestours, for to tellen tales 

Anon in myn armynge ; 
Of romances that been roiales, 
Of Popes and of Cardinales, 

And eek of love-likynge." 204-0 

They fette hym first the sweete wyn, 
And mede eek in a mazelyn, 

And roial spicerye, 
And gyngebreed that was ful fyn, 
And lycorys, and eek comyn, 204-5 

With sugre that is so trye. 

He dide next his white leere 
Of clooth of lake, fyn and cleere, 

A breech, and eek a sherte, 

And next his sherte an aketoun, 2050 

And over that an haubergeoun, 

For percynge of his herte. 

And over that a fyn hawberk, 
Was al ywroght of Jewes werk, 

Ful strong it was of plate. 2055 

And over that his cote-armour 
As whit as is a lilye flour, 

In which he wol debate. 


His sheeld was al of gold so reed, 

And therinne was a bores heed, 2060 

A charbocle bisyde; 
And there he swoor on ale and breed, 
How that "the geaunt shal be deed 

Bityde what bityde !" 

Hise jambeux were of quyrboilly, 2065 

His swerdes shethe of yvory, 

His helm of laton bright, 
His sadel was of rewel-boon, 
His brydel as the sonne shoon, 

Or as the moone light. 2070 

His spere it was of fyn ciprees, 

That bodeth werre, and no thyng pees, 

The heed ful sharpe ygrounde; 
His steede was al dappull-gray, 
It gooth an ambil in the way 2075 

Ful softely and rounde 

In londe. 

Loo, lordes myne, heere is a fit; 
If ye wol any moore of it, 

To telle it wol I fonde. 2080 

The Second Fit. 

Now holde youre mouth, par charitee, 
Bothe knyght and lady free, 

And herkneth to my spelle ; 
Of batailles and of chivalry 
And of ladyes love-drury 201 

Anon I wol yow telle. 

Men speken of romances of prys, 
Of Hornchild, and of Ypotys, 


Of Beves and Sir Gy, 

Of Sir Lybeux and Pleyndamour, 2090 

But Sir Thopas, he bereth the flour 

Of roial chivalry. 

His goode steede al he bistrood, 
And forth upon his wey he glood 

As sparcle out of the bronde. 20Q5 

Upon his creest he bar a tour, 
And therinne stiked a lilie-flour; 

God shilde his cors fro shonde! 

And for he was a knyght auntrous, 

He nolde slepen in noon hous, 2100 

But liggen in his hoode. 
His brighte helm was his wonger, 
And by. hym baiteth his dextrer 

Of herbes fyne and goode. 

Hym-self drank water of the well, 2105 

As dide the knyght sir Percyvell 

So worly under wede, 
Til on a day 

Heere the Hoost stynteth Chaucer of his Tale of Thopas. 

"Na moore of this, for Goddes dignitee," 
Quod oure hooste, "for thou makest me 2110 

So wery of thy verray lewednesse, 
That also wisly God my soule blesse, 
Min eres aken of thy drasty speche. 
Now swich a rym the devel I biteche ! 
This may wel be rym dogerel," quod he. 2115 

2094 rood. 2110 boost. 



"Why so?" quod I, "why wiltow lette me 
Moore of my tale than another man 
Syn that it is the beste tale I kan?" 
"By God," quod he, "for pleynly at a word 
Thy drasty rymyng is nat worth a toord, 2120 

Thou doost noght elles but despendest tyme. 
Sir, at o word thou shalt no lenger ryme. 
Lat se wher thou kanst tellen aught in geeste, 
Or telle in prose somwhat, at the leeste, 
In which ther be som murthe or som doctryne." 2125 

"Gladly," quod I, "by Goddes sweete pyne, 
I wol yow telle a litel thyng in prose, 
That oghte liken yow as I suppose, 
Or elles, certes, ye been to daungerous. 

It is a moral tale vertuous, 2130 

Al be it take somtyme in sondry wyse 
Of sondry folk as I shal yow devyse. 
As thus ; ye woot that every Evaungelist 
That telleth us the peyne of Jesu Crist 

Ne seith nat alle thyng as his felawe dooth, 2135 

But, nathelees, hir sentence is al sooth, 
And alle acorden as in hir sentence, 
Al be tner in hir tellyng difference. 
For somme of hem seyn moore, and somme seyn lesse, 
Whan they his pitous passioun expresse; 2140 

I meene of Marke, Mathew, Luc, and John, 
But doutelees hir sentence is al oon, 
Therfore, lordynges alle, I yow biseche 
If that yow thynke I varie as in my speche, 
As thus, though that I telle somwhat moore 2145 

Of proverbes, than ye han herd bifoore, 
Comprehended in this litel tretys heere, 
To enforce with theffect of my mateere, 
And though I nat the same wordes seye 
As ye han herd, yet to yow alle I preye, 2150 

2141 Mark. 


Blameth me nat ; for, as in my sentence 

Ye shul nat fynden moche difference 

Fro the sentence of this tretys lyte 

After the which this murye tale I write. 

And therfore herkneth what that I shal seye, 2155 

And lat me tellen al my tale, I preye." 

THE TALE (in prose). 

[A young man called Melibeus, whose wife Prudence and 
daughter Sophie (Wisdom) are maltreated by his foes in 
his absence, is counseled with many wise sayings uttered by 
his wife tending toward peace and forgiveness, instead of 
2152 moche om 


The murye wordes of the Hoost to the Monk. 

Whan ended was my tale of Melibee, 

And of Prudence, and hir benignytee, . 3080 

Oure hooste seyde, "As I am feithful man, 
And by that precious corpus Madrian, 
I hadde levere than a barel ale 
That goode lief my wyf hadde herd this tale ! 
She nys nothyng of swich pacience 3085 

As was this Melibeus wyf, Prudence. 
By Goddes bones, whan I bete my knaves 
She bryngeth me forth the grete clobbed staves, 
And crieth, 'Slee the dogges, everichoon, 

And brek hem, bothe bak and every boon/ 3090 

And if that any neighebore of myne 
Wol nat in chirche to my wyf enclyne, 
Or be so hardy to hir to trespace, 
Whan she comth hoom she rampeth in my face, 
And crieth, 'false coward, wrek thy wyf ! 30Q5 

By corpus bones, I wol have thy knyf, 
And thou shalt have my distaf and go spynne 
Fro day to nyght !' Right thus she wol bigynne. 
'Alias/ she seith, 'that evere I was shape 
To wedden a milksop or a coward ape, 3100 

That wol been overlad with every wight ; 
Thou darst nat stonden by thy wyves right !' 
This is my lif, but if that I wol fighte, 
And out at dore anon I moot me dighte, 
Or elles I am but lost, but if that I 3105 

3081 hoost. 3084 good. 3094 hoom om. 


Be lik a wilde leoun fool-hardy. 
I woot wel she wol do me slee som day 
Som neighebore, and thanne go my way. 
For I am perilous with knyf in honde, 

Al be it that I dar hir nat withstonde. 3110 

For she is byg in armes, by my feith, 
That shal he fynde that hir mysdooth or seith 
But lat us passe awey fro this mateere. 
My lord the Monk," quod he, "be myrie of cheere, 
For ye shul telle a tale, trewely. 3115 

Loo, Rouchestre stant heer faste by. 
Ryde forth, myn owene lord, brek nat oure game. 
But, by my trouthe, I knowe nat youre name ; 
Wher shal I calle yow my lord daun John, 
Or daun Thomas, or elles daun Albon? 3120 

Of what hous be ye, by youre fader kyn? 
I vowe to God, thou hast a ful fair skyn,* 
It is a gentil pasture ther thow goost. 
Thou art nat lyk a penant or a goost. 

Upon my feith, thou art som officer, 3? 25 

Som worthy sexteyn, or som celerer, 
For by my fader soule, as to my doom, 
Thou art a maister whan thou art at hoom, 
No povre cloysterer, ne no novys, 

But a governour, wily and wys; 313V? 

And therwith-al of brawnes and of bones 
A wel-farynge persone, for the nones. 
I pray to God, yeve hym confusioun 
That first thee broghte unto religioun. 

Thou woldest han been a tredefowel aright; 3135 

Haddestow as greet a leeve as thou hast myght 
To parfourne al thy lust in engendrure, 
Thou haddest bigeten ful many a creature. 
Alias, why werestow so wyd a cope ? 

God yeve me sorwe, but, and I were a pope, 3140 

3129 cloystrer. 



Nat oonly thou but every myghty man 
Though he were shorn ful hye upon his pan, 
Sholde have a wyf, for al the world is lorn. 
Religioun hath take up al the corn 

Of tredyng, and we borel men been shrympes. 3145 

Of fieble trees ther comen wrecched ympes. 
This maketh that our heyres ben so sclendre 
And feble, that they may nat wel engendre; 
This maketh that oure wyves wole assaye 
Religious folk; for ye mowe bettre paye 3150 

Of Venus paiementz than mowe we ; 
God woot no lussheburghes payen ye. 
But be nat wrooth, my lord,, for that I pleye, 
Ful ofte in game a sooth I have herd seye." 
This worthy Monk took al in pacience, 3155 

And seyde, "I wol doon al my diligence, 
As fer as sowneth into honestee, 
To telle yow a tale, or two, or three. 
And if yow list to herkne hyderward 

I wol yow seyn the lyf of seint Edward; 31 60 

Or ellis first tragedies wol I telle 
Of whiche I have an hundred in my celle. 
Tragedie is to seyn, a certeyn storie, 
As olde bookes maken us memorie, 

Of hym that stood in greet prosperitee 3165 

And is yfallen out of heigh degree 
Into myserie, and endeth wrecchedly, 
And they ben versified communely 
Of six feet, which men clepen exametron. 
In prose eek been endited many oon, 3170 

And eek in meetre, in many a sondry wyse. 
Lo, this declaryng oghte ynogh suffise; 
Now herkiieth, if yow liketh for to heere. 
But first, I yow biseeke in this mateere, 

Though I by ordre telle nat thise thynges, 3175 

134-7 om. in MS. 3152 lussheburgh. 3160 yow om. 


Be it of popes, emperours, or kynges, 

After hir ages, as men writen fynde, 

But tellen hem, som bifore and som bihynde, 

As it now comth unto my remembraunce ; 

Have me excused of myn ignoraunce. 3180 


Heere bigynneth the Monkes Tale de Casibus Virorum 

I wol biwaille in manere of Tragedie 
The harm of hem that stoode in heigh degree, 
And fillen so, that ther nas no remedie 
To brynge hem out of hir adversitee. 

For certein, whan that Fortune list to flee, 3185 

Ther may no man the cours of hire withholde; 
Lat no man truste on blynd prosperitee ; 
Be war of thise ensamples, trewe and olde. 


At Lucifer, though he an aungel were, 

And nat a man, at hym wol I biginne, 31 90 

For though Fortune may noon aungel dere, 
From heigh degree yet fel he for his synne 
Doun into helle, where he yet is inne. 
O Lucifer, brightest of aungels alle, 

Now artow Sathanas, that mayst nat twynne 3195 

Out of miserie, in which that thou art falle. 


Loo Adam, in the feeld of Damyssene, 
With Goddes owene fynger wroght was he, 
And nat bigeten of mannes sperme unclene, 
And welte all Paradys, savynge o tree. 3200 

Hadde nevere worldly man so heigh degree 
As Adam, til he, for mysgovernaunce, 
Was dryven out of hys hye prosperitee 
To labour, and to helle, and to meschaunce. 



Loo Sampson, which that was annunciat 3205 

By angel, longe er his nativitee, 
And was to God almyghty consecrat, 
And stood in noblesse whil he myghte see, 
Was nevere swich another as was hee, 

To speke of strengthe and therwith hardynesse; 3210 

But to hise wyves toolde he his secree, 
Thurgh which he slow hymself for wrecchednesse. 

Sampsoun, this noble almyghty champioun, 

Withouten wepene, save his handes tweye, 

He slow and al torente the leoun 3215 

Toward his weddyng walkynge by the weye. 

His false wyf koude hym so plese and preye 

Til she his conseil knew, and she untrewe 

Unto hise foos his conseil gan biwreye, 

And hym forsook, and took another newe. 3220 

Thre hundred foxes took Sampson for ire, 

And alle hir tayles he togydre bond, 

And sette the foxes tayles alle on fire ; 

For he on every tayl had knyt a brond, 

And they brende alle the comes in that lond, 3225 

And alle hir olyveres and vynes eke. 

A thousand men he slow eek with his hond, 

And hadde no wepene but an asses cheke. 

Whan they were slayn, so thursted hym, that he 

Was wel ny lorn, for which he gan to preye 3230 

That God wolde on his peyne han som pitee, 

And sende hym drynke, or elles moste he deye; 

And of this asses cheke, that was dreye, 

Out of a wang-tooth sprang anon a welle 

Of which he drank anon, shortly to seye, 3235 

Thus heelp hym God, as Judicum can telle. 

3214 tweyne. 



By verray force at Gazan, on a nyght, 

Maugree Philistiens of that citee, 

The gates of the toun he hath upplyght, 

And on his bak ycaryed hem hath he 3240 

Hye on an hille, that men myghte hem see. 

O noble almyghty Sampson, lief and deere, 

Had thou nat toold to wommen thy secree, 

In all this world ne hadde been thy peere. 

This Sampson nevere ciser drank, ne wyn, 3245 

Ne on his heed cam rasour noon, ne sheere, 

By precept of the messager divyn, 

For alle hise strengthes in hise heeres weere. 

And fully twenty wynter, yeer by yeere, 

He hadde of Israel the governaunce. 

But soone shal he wepen many a teere, 

For wommen shal hym bryngen to meschaunce ! 

Unto his lemman Dalida he tolde 

That in hise heeres al his strengthe lay, 

And falsly to hise fooman she hym solde; 3255 

And slepynge in hir barmc upon a day 

She made to clippe or shere hise heres away, 

And made hise foomen al this craft espyen. 

And whan that they hym foond in this array, 

They bounde hym faste, and putten out hise eyen. 3260 

But er his heer were clipped or yshave, 
Ther was no boond with which men myghte him bynde, 
But now is he in prison in a cave, 
Where as they made hym at the queerne grynde. 
O noble Sampson, strongest of mankynde, 3265 

O whilom juge in glorie and in richesse, 
Now maystow wepen with thyne eyen blynde, 
Sith thou fro wele art f alle in wrecchednesse ! 
8241 hill. 3251 wepe. 


The ende of this caytyf was as I shal seye; 

Hise foomen made a feeste upon a day, 3270 

And made hym as hir fool biforn hem pleye. 

And this was in a temple of greet array; 

But atte laste he made a foul affray, 

For he two pilers shook, and made hem falle, 

And doun fil temple and al, and ther it lay > 3275 

And slow hymself, and eek his foomen alle. 

This is to seyn, the prynces everichoon, 

And eek thre thousand bodyes were ther slayn 

With fallynge of the grete temple of stoon. 

Of Sampson now wol I namoore sayn: 3280 

Beth war by this ensample oold and playn 

That no men telle hir conseil til hir wyves 

Of swich thyng as they wolde han secree fayn, 

If that it touche hir lymmes or hir lyves. 


Off Hercules the sovereyn conquerour 3285 

Syngen hise werkes laude and heigh renoun, 
For in his tyme of strengthe he was the flour. 
He slow and rafte the skyn of the leoun, 
He of Centauros leyde the boost adoun, 
He arpies slow, the crueel bryddes felle, 3290 

He golden apples refte of the dragoun, 
He drow out Cerberus the hound of helle. 

He slow the crueel tyrant Busirus, 
And made his hors to f rete hym, flessh and boon ; 
He slow the firy serpent venymus, 32Q5 

Of Acheloys two homes, he brak oon, 
And he slow Cacus in a Cave of stoon; 
He slow the geaunt Antheus the stronge, 
He slow the grisly boor, and that anon, 
And bar the hevene on his nekke longe. 3300 

3271 hir a. 8274 two the. 3296 homes two. 


Was nevere wight, sith that this world bigan, 

That slow so manye monstres as dide he. 

Thurghout this wyde world his name ran, 

What for his strengthe, and for his heigh bountee, 

And every reawme wente he for to see. 3305 

He was so stroong that no man myghte hym lette ; 

At bothe the worldes endes, seith Trophee, 

In stide of boundes, he a pileer sette. 

A lemman hadde this noble champioun, 

That highte Dianira, fressh as May, 3310 

And as thise clerkes maken mencioun, 

She hath hym sent a sherte fressh and gay. 

Alias, this sherte, alias, and weylaway ! 

Envenymed was so subtilly withalle, 

That er that he had wered it half a day 3315 

It made his flessh al from hise bones falle. 

But nathelees somme clerkes hir excusen 

By oon that highte Nessus, that it maked. 

Be as be may, I wol hir noght accusen; 

But on his bak this sherte he wered al naked, 3320 

Til that his flessh was for the venym blaked; 

And whan he saugh noon oother remedye, 

In hoote coles he hath hym-selven raked, 

For with no venym deigned hym to dye. 

Thus starf this worthy myghty Hercules. 3325 

Lo, who may truste on Fortune any throwe ? 
For hym that folweth al this world of prees, 
Er he be war, is ofte yleyd ful lowe. 
Ful wys is he that kan hymselven knowe. 
Beth war, for whan that Fortune list to glose, 3330 

Thanne wayteth she her man to overthrowe, 
By swich a wey, as he wolde leest suppose. 
3314 Evenymed. 



The myghty trone, the precious tresor 
The glorious ceptre and roial magestee 

That hadde the kyng Nabugodonosor, 3335 

With tonge unnethe may discryved bee. 
He twyes wan Jerusalem the citee ; 
The vessel of the temple he with hym ladde. 
At Babiloigne was his sovereyn see, 
In which his glorie and his delit he hadde. 3340 

The faireste children of the blood roial 

Of Israel he leet do gelde anoon, 

And maked ech of hem to been his thral. 

Amonges o there, Daniel was oon, 

That was the wiseste child of every chon ; 3345 

For he the dremes of the kyng expouned 

Wheras in Chaldeye clerk ne was ther noon 

That wiste to what fyn hise dremes sowned. 

This proude kyng leet maken a statue of gold 

Sixty cubites long, and sevene in brede, 3350 

To which ymage bothe yonge and oold 

Comaunded he to loute and have in drede, 

Or in a fourneys ful of flambes rede 

He shal be brent, that wolde noght obeye. 

But nevere wolde assente to that dede 3355 

Daniel, ne hise yonge felawes tweye. 

This kyng of kynges proud was and elaat; 
He wende, that God that sit in magestee 
Ne myghte hym nat bireve of his estaat ; 
But sodeynly he loste his dignytee, 3360 

And lyk a beest hym semed for to bee, 
And eet hey as an oxe and lay theroute; 
In reyn with wilde beestes walked hee 
Til certein tyme was ycome aboute. 
3351 To The; he bothe. 3352 he om. 


And lik an egles fetheres wex his heres, 3365 

Hise nayles lyk a briddes clawes weere, 

Til God relessed hym a certeyn yeres, 

And yaf hym wit, and thanne, with many a teere, 

He thanked God; and evere his lyf in feere 

Was he to doon amys, or moore trespace, 3370 

And til that tyme he leyd was on his beere, 

He knew that God was ful of myght and grace. 


His sone which that highte Balthasar, 
That heeld the regne after his fader day, 
He by his fader koude noght be war, 3375 

For proud he was of herte and of array; 
And eek an ydolastre he was ay. 
His hye estaat assured hym in pryde; 
But Fortune caste hym doun and ther he lay, 
And sodeynly his regne gan divide. 3380 

A feeste he made unto hise lordes alle 

Upon a tyme, and bad hem blithe bee, 

And thanne hise officeres gan he calle, 

"Gooth, bryngeth forth the vesseles," quod he, 

"Whiche that my fader, in his prosperitee, 3385 

Out of the temple of Jerusalem birafte, 

And to oure hye goddes thanke we 

Of honour, that oure eldres with us lafte." 

Hys wyf, hise lordes, and hise concubynes 

Ay dronken, whil hire appetites laste, 3390 

Out of thise noble vessels sondry wynes. 

And on a wal this kyng hise eyen caste, 

And saugh an hand armlees that wroot ful faste, 

For feere of which he quook and siked soore. 

This hand, that Balthasar so soore agaste, 3395 

Wroot 'Mane, techel, phares,' and na moore. 

8383 officers. 3384 vessels. 


In al that land magician was noon 

That koude expounde what this lettre mente. 

But Daniel expowned it anon, 

And seyde, "Kyng, God to thy fader lente 3400 

Glorie and honour, regne, tresour, rente ; 

And he was proud, and nothyng God ne dradde, 

And therfore God greet wreche upon hym sente, 

And hym birafte the regne that he hadde. 

He was out-cast of mannes compaignye, 3405 

With asses was his habitacioun, 

And eet hey as a beest in weet and drye, 

Til that he knew by grace and by resoun 

That God of hevene hath domynacioun 

Over every regne and every creature, 3410 

And thanne hadde God of hym compassioun 

And hym restored his regne and his figure. 

Eek thou that art his sone art proud also, 

And knowest alle thise thynges verraily, 

And art rebel to God and art his foo. 3415 

Thou drank eek of hise vessels boldely, 

Thy wyf eek, and thy wenches synfully 

Dronke of the same vessels sondry wynys, 

And heryest false goddes cursedly; 

Therfore to thee yshapen ful greet pyne ys. 3420 

This hand was sent from God, that on the wal 

Wroot 'Mane techel phares,' truste me ! 

Thy regne is doon, thou weyest noght at al, 

Dyvyded is thy regne, and it shal be 

To Medes and to Perses yeve," quod he. 3425 

And thilke same nyght this kyng was slawe 

And Darius occupyeth his degree, 

Thogh he therto hadde neither right ne lawe. 

8400 lente sente. 3425 yeve om. 


Lordynges, ensample heer-by may ye take 

How that in lordshipe is 110 sikernesse ; 3430 

For whan Fortune wole a man forsake, 

She bereth awey his regne and his richesse, 

And eek hise freendes, bothe moore and lesse, 

For what man that hath freendes thurgh Fortune 

Mishap wol maken hem enemys, as I gesse ; 3435 

This proverbe is ful sooth and ful commune. 


Cenobia, of Palymerie queene, 
As writen Persians of hir noblesse, 
So worthy was in armes, and so keene, 

That no wight passed hir in hardynesse, 3440 

Ne in lynage, ne in oother gentillesse. 
Of kynges blood of Perce is she descended. 
I seye nat that she hadde moost fairnesse, 
But of hire shap she myghte nat been amended. 

From hir childhede I fynde that she fledde 3445 

Office of wommen, and to wode she wente, 

And many a wilde hertes blood she shedde 

With arwes brode, that she to hem sente. 

She was so swift that she anon hem hente, 

And whan that she was elder, she wolde kille 3450 

Leouns, leopardes, and beres al to-rente, 

And in hir armes weelde hem at hir wille. 

She dorste wilde beestes dennes seke, 
And rennen in the montaignes al the nyght 
And slepen under the bussh, and she koude eke 3455 

Wrastlen by verray force and verray myght 
With any yong man, were he never so wight ; 
Ther myghte nothyng in hir armes stonde. 
She kepte hir maydenhod from every wight, 
To no man deigned hir for to be bonde. 3460 

3441 nor in. 


But atte laste hir freendes han hir maried 

To Odenake, a prynce of that contree, 

Al were it so that she hem longe taried, 

And ye shul understonde how that he 

Hadde swiche fantasies as hadde she. 3465 

But nathelees, whan they were knyt infeere, 

They lyved in joye and in felicitee, 

For ech of hem hadde oother lief and deere ; 

Save o thyng, that she wolde nevere assente 

By no wey that he sholde by hir lye 3470 

But ones, for it was hir pleyn entente 

To have a child the world to multiplye; 

And also soone as that she myghte espye 

That she was nat with childe with that dede, 

Thanne wolde she suffre hym doon his fantasye 3475 

Eft-soone and nat but oones, out of drede. 

And if she were with childe at thilke cast, 

Namoore sholde he pleyen thilke game 

Til fully fourty dayes weren past; 

Thanne wolde she ones suffre hym do the same. 3480 

Al were this Odenake wilde or tame, 

He gat na moore of hir, for thus she seyde, 

It was to wyves lecheie and shame 

In oother caas, if that men with hem pleyde. 

Two sones by this Odenake hadde she, 3485 

The whiche she kepte in vertu and lettrure, 
But now unto oure tale turne we; 
I seye, so worshipful a creature, 
And wys ther-with, and large with mesure, 
So penyble in the werre, and curteis eke, 3490 

Ne moore labour myghte in werre endure, 
Was noon, though al this world men wolde seke. 
8462, 8481, 8486, Onedake. 



Hir riche array ne myghte nat be told 

As wel in vessel as in hir clothyng ; 

She was al clad in perree and in gold, 3495 

And eek she lafte noght for noon huntyng 

To have of sondry tonges ful knowyng, 

Whan that she leyser hadde, and for to entende 

To lerne bookes was al hire likyng, 

How she in vertu myghte hir lyf dispende. 3500 

And shortly of this proces for to trete, 

So doghty was hir housbonde and eek she, 

That they conquered manye regnes grete 

In the orient, with many a faire citee, 

Apertenaunt unto the magestee 3505 

Of Rome, and with strong hond held hem ful faste, 

Ne nevere myghte hir foomen doon hem flee, 

Ay whil that Odenakes dayes laste. 

Hir batailles, who-so list hem for to rede, 

Agayn Sapor the kyng and othere mo, 3510 

And how that al this proces fil in dede, 

Why she conquered, and what title had therto, 

And after of hir meschief and hire wo, 

How that she was biseged and ytake, 

Lat hym unto my maister Petrak go, 3515 

That writ ynough of this, I undertake. 

Whan Odenake was deed, she myghtily 

The regnes heeld; and with hir propre hond 

Agayn hir foos she faught so cruelly 

That ther nas kyng ne prynce in al that lond 3520 

That he nas glad, if he that grace fond 

That she ne wolde upon his lond werreye. 

With hir they makede alliance by bond 

To been in pees, and let hire ride and pleye. 

3511 that om. 3512 had om. 8517 Onedake, 3523 made. 


The Emperour of Rome, Claudius, 3525 

Ne hym bifore, the Romayn Galien, 

Ne dorste nevere been so corageus, 

Ne noon Ermyn, ne noon Egipcien, 

Ne Surrien, ne noon Arabyen, 

With-inne the feeldes that dorste with hir fighte, 3530 

Lest that she wolde hem with hir handes slen, 

Or with hir meignee putten hem to flighte. 

In kynges habit wente hir sones two 

As heires of hir fadres regnes alle, 

And Hermanno, and Thymalao 3535 

Hir names were, as Persiens hem calle. 

But ay Fortune hath in hir hony galle; 

This myghty queene may no while endure. 

Fortune out of hir regne made hir falle 

To wrecchednese and to mysaventure. 3540 

Aurelian, whan that the governaunce 

Of Rome cam into hise handes tweye, 

He shoope upon this queene to doon vengeaunce, 

And with hise legions he took his weye 

Toward Cenobie, and shortly for to seye, 3545 

He made hir flee and atte last hir hente, 

And fettred hir, and eek hir children tweye, 

And wan the land, and hoom to Rome he wente. 

Amonges othere thynges that he wan, 

Hir chaar, that was with gold wroght and perree, 3550 

This grete Romayn, this Aurelian, 

Hath with hym lad for that men sholde it see. 

Biforen his triumphe walketh shee, 

With gilte cheynes on hir nekke hangynge ; 

Coroned was she, after hir degree, 3555 

And ful of perree charged hir clothynge. 

3553 Biforn. 



Alias, Fortune ! she that whilom was 

Dredful to kynges and to emperoures, 

Now gaureth al the peple on hir, alias ! 

And she that helmed was in starke shoures 3560 

And wan by force townes stronge and toures 

Shal on hir heed now were a vitremyte, 

And she that bar the ceptre ful of floures 

Shal bere a distaf, hir costes for to quyte. 

[The 'modern instances' which follow here, are at the end of the Tale in 
this MS.] 

De Petro Rege Ispannie 

O noble, O worthy Petro, glorie of Spayne ! 3565 

Whom Fortune heeld so hye in magestee, 
Wei oghten men thy pitous deeth complayne; 
Out of thy land thy brother made thee flee, 
And after at a seege by subtiltee 

Thou were bitraysed, and lad unto his tente 3570 

Where as he with his owene hand slow thee, 
Succedynge in thy regne and in thy rente. 

The feeld of snow, with thegle of blak therinne 
Caught with the lymerod, coloured as the gleede, 
He brew this cursednesse and al this synne. 
The wikked nest was werker of this nede, 
Noght Charles Olyvver, that took ay heede 
Of trouthe and honour, but of Armorike 
Genyloun Olyver, corrupt for meede, 
Broghte this worthy kyng in swich a brike. 

De Petro Rege de Cipro 

O worthy Petro, kyng of Cipre, also, 
That Alisandre wan by heigh maistrie, 
Ful many an hethen wroghtestow ful wo, 
Of which thyne owene liges hadde envye, 
And for nothyng but for thy chivalrie, 
They in thy bed han slayn thee by the morwe. 





Thus kan Fortune hir wheel governe and gye, 
And out of joye brynge men to sorwe. 

De Barnabo de Lumbardia 

Off Melan grete Barnabo Viscounte, 

God of delit and scourge of Lumbardye, 35QO 

Why sholde I nat thyn infortune acounte, 
Sith in estaat thow cloumbe were so hye? 
Thy brother sone, that was thy double allye 
For he thy nevew was, and sone-in-lawe, 
Withinne his prisoun made thee to dye, 3595 

But why, ne how, noot I that thou were slawe. 

De Hugelino Comite de Pize 

Off the Erl Hugelyn of Pyze the langour 
Ther may no tonge telle for pitee. 
But litel out of Pize stant a tour, 

In whiche tour in prisoun put was he, 3600 

And with hym been his litel children thre, 
The eldeste scarsly fyf yeer was of age. 
Alias, Fortune, it was greet crueltee 
Swiche briddes for to putte in swiche a cage ! 

Dampned was he to dyen in that prisoun, 3605 

For Roger, which that Bisshop was of Pize, 

Hadde on hym maad a fals suggestioun, 

Thurgh which the peple gan upon hym rise, 

And putten hym to prisoun in swich wise 

As ye han herd, and mete and drynke he hadde 3610 

So smal that wel unnethe it may suffise, 

And therwithal it was ful povre and badde. 

And on a day bifil, that in that hour 

Whan that his mete wont was to be broght, 

The gayler shette the dores of the tour; 3615 

He herde it wel, but he spak right noght 

3600 which. 8611 wel om. 


And in his herte anon ther fil a thoght, 

That they for hunger wolde doon hym dyen. 

"Alias/' quod he, "alias, that I was wroght !" 

Therwith the teeris fillen from hise eyen. 3620 

His yonge sone, that thre yeer was of age, 

Unto hym seyde, "Fader, why do ye wepe? 

Whanne wol the gayler bryngen our potage ? 

Is ther no morsel breed that ye do kepe? 

I am so hungry that I may nat slepe. 3625 

Now wolde God that I myghte slepen evere ! 

Thanne sholde nat hunger in my wombe crepe, 

Ther is nothyng but breed that me were levere.'* 

Thus day by day this child bigan to crye, 

Til in his fadres barm adoun it lay, 3630 

And seyde, "Farewel, fader, I moot dye !" 

And kiste his fader, and dyde the same day. 

And whan the woful fader deed it say, 

For wo hise armes two he gan to byte, 

And seyde, "Alias, Fortune and weylaway! 3635 

Thy false wheel my wo al may I wyte !" 

Hise children wende that it for hunger was 

That he his armes gnow, and nat for wo, 

And seyde, "Fader, do nat so, alias ! 

But rather etc the flessh upon us two. 3640 

Oure flessh thou yaf us, take our flessh us fro, 

And etc ynogh," right thus they to hym seyde; 

And after that withinne a day or two 

They leyde hem in his lappe adoun, and deyde. 

Hymself, despeired, eek for hunger starf, 3645 

Thus ended is this myghty Erl of Pize. 
From heigh estaat Fortune awey hym carf, 
Of this tragedie it oghte ynough suffise. 

3641 us om. 


Whoso wol here it in a lenger wise, 

Redeth the grete poete of Ytaille 3650 

That highte Dant, for he kan al devyse 

Fro point to point, nat o word wol he faille. 


Al though that Nero were vicius 
As any feend that lith in helle adoun, 

Yet he, as telleth us Swetonius, 3655 

This wyde world hadde in subjeccioun, 
Bothe Est and West, South and Septemtrioun; 
Of rubies, saphires, and of peerles white 
Were alle hise clothes brouded up and doun, 
For he in gemmes greetly gan delite. 3660 

Moore delicaat, moore pompous of array, 

Moore proud was nevere emperour than he. 

That ilke clooth that he hadde wered o day, 

After that tyme he nolde it nevere see. 

Nettes of gold-threed hadde he greet plentee, 3665 

To fisshe in Tybre, whan hym liste pleye. 

Hise lustes were al lawe in his decree, 

For Fortune as his f reend hym wolde obeye. 

He Rome brende for his delicasie ; 

The senatours he slow upon a day, 3670 

To heere how men wolde wepe and crie ; 

And slow his brother, and by his suster lay. 

His mooder made he in pitous array, 

For he hir wombe slitte, to biholde 

Wher he conceyved was, so weilaway 3675 

That he so litel of his mooder tolde ! 

No teere out of hise eyen for that sighte 

Ne cam; but seyde, "A fair womman was she/' 

Greet wonder is how that he koude or myghte 

Be domesman of hir dede beautee. 3680 

8657 South North. 


The wyn to bryngen hym comanded he, 
And drank anon ; noon oother wo he made, 
Whan myght is joyned unto crueltee, 
Alias, to depe wol the venym wade ! 

In yowthe a maister hadde this emperour 3685 

To techen hym lettrure and curteisye, 

For of moralitee he was the flour, 

As in his tyme, but if bookes lye. 

And whil this maister hadde of hym maistrye, 

He maked hym so konnyng and so sowple, 3690 

That longe tyme it was, er tirannye 

Or any vice dorste on hym uncowple. 

This Seneca, of which that I devyse, 

By-cause Nero hadde of hym swich drede, 

(For he fro vices wolde hym chastise 36Q5 

Discreetly as by word, and nat by dede) 

"Sire," wolde he seyn, "an emperour moot nede 

Be vertuous and hate tirannye." 

For which he in a bath made hym to blede 

On bothe hise armes, til he moste dye. 3700 

This Nero hadde eek of acustumaunce 

In youthe agayns his maister for to ryse, 

Which afterward hym thoughte greet grevaunce; 

Therfore he made hym dyen in this wise, 

But nathelees, this Seneca the wise 3705 

Chees in a bath to dye in this manere, 

Rather than han anoother tormentise, 

And thus hath Nero slayn his maister deere. 

Now fil it so, that Fortune liste no lenger 
The hye pryde of Nero to cherice; 3710 

For though that he was strong, yet was she strenger ; 
She thoughte thus, "By God, I am to nyce 

3686 teche. 3707 any oother. 


To sette a man that is fulfild of vice 

In heigh degree, and emperour hym calle. 

By God, out of his sete I wol hym trice, 3715 

Whan he leest weneth, sonnest shal he falle." 

The peple roos upon hym on a nyght 

For his defaute, and whan he it espied 

Out of hise dores anoon he hath hym dight 

Allone, and ther he wende han been allied 3720 

He knokked faste, and ay the moore he cried, 

The faster shette they the dores alle. 

For drede of this hym thoughte that he dyed, 

And wente his wey, no lenger dorste he calle. 

The peple cride, and rombled up and doun, 3725 

That with his erys herde he how they seyde, 

"Where is this false tiraunt, this Neroun?" 

For fere almoost out of his wit he breyde, 

And to hise goddes pitously he preyde 

For socour, but it myghte nat bityde. 3730 

For drede of this hym thoughte that he deyde, 

And ran into a gar din hym to hyde. 

And in this gardyn foond he cherles tweye, 

That seten by a fyr greet and reed, 

And to thise cherles two he gan to preye 3735 

To sleen hym and to girden of his heed, 

That to his body whan that he were deed 

Were no despit ydoon, for his defame. 

Hymself he slow, he koude no bettre reed, 

Of which Fortune lough and hadde a game. 374*0 

De Oloferno 

Was nevere capitayn under a kyng 
That regnes mo putte in subjeccioun, 
Ne strenger was in feeld of alle thyng 



As in his tyme, ne gretter of renoun, 
Ne moore pompous in heigh presumpcioun, 
Than Oloferne, which Fortune ay kiste 
So likerously, and ladde hym up and doun 
Til that his heed was of er that he wiste. 


Nat oonly that this world hadde hym in awe 

For lesynge of richesse or libertee, 

But he made every man reneyen his lawe. 

"Nabugodonosor was god/' seyde hee, 

"Noon oother god sholde adoured bee." 

Agayns his heeste no wight dorste trespace, 

Save in Bethulia, a strong citee, 

Where Eliachim a preest was of that place. 



But taak kepe of the deeth of Oloferne ; 
Amydde his hoost he dronke lay a nyght, 
Withinne his tente, large as is a berne ; 
And yet for al his pompe and al his myght 
Judith, a womman, as he lay upright 
Slepynge, his heed of smoot, and from his tente 
Ful prively she stal from every wight, 
And with his heed unto hir toun she wente. 


De Rege Anthiocho illustri 

What nedeth it of kyng Anthiochus 
To telle his hye roial magestee, 
His hye pride, hise werkes venymous? 
For swich another was ther noon as he, 
Rede which that he was in Machabee, 
And rede the proude wordes that he seyde, 
And why he fil fro heigh prosperitee, 
And in an hill how wrecchedly he deyde. 

3751 he om. 




Fortune hym hadde enhaunced so in pride 

That verraily he wende he myghte attayne 

Unto the sterres upon every syde, 3775 

And in balance weyen ech montayne, 

And alle the floodes of the see restrayne. 

And Goddes peple hadde he moost in hate; 

Hem wolde he sleen in torment and in payne, 

Wenynge that God ne myghte his pride abate. 3780 

And for that Nichanore and Thymothee 

Of Jewes weren venquysshed myghtily, 

Unto the Jewes swich an hate hadde he 

That he bad greithen his^chaar ful hastily, 

And swoor, and seyde, ful despitously, 3785 

Unto Jerusalem he wolde eft-soone, 

To wreken his ire on it ful cruelly ; 

But of his purpos he was let ful soone. 

God for his manace hym so soore smoot 

With invisible wounde, ay incurable, 3790 

That in hise guttes carf it so and boot 

That hise peynes weren importable. 

And certeinly, the wreche was resonable, 

For many a mannes guttes dide he peyne, 

But from his purpos cursed and dampnable 3795 

For al his smert he wolde hym nat restreyne ; 

But bad anon apparaillen his hoost, 

And sodeynly, er he was of it war, 

God daunted al his pride and al his boost, 

For he so soore fil out of his char, 3800 

That it hise lemes and his skyn totar, 

So that he neyther myghte go ne ryde, 

But in a chayer men aboute hym bar 

Al forbrused, bothe bak and syde. 



The wreche of God hym smoot so cruelly 3805 

That thurgh his body wikked wormes crepte; 

And therwithal he stank so horribly 

That noon of al his meynee that hym kepte 

Wheither so he wook or ellis slepte, 

Ne myghte noght for stynk of hym endure. 3810 

In this meschief he wayled and eek wepte, 

And knew God lord of every creature. 

To all his hoost and to hymself also 

Ful wlatsom was the stynk of his careyne, 

No man ne myghte hym bere to ne fro, 3815 

And in this stynk and this horrible peyne 

He starf ful wrecchedly in a monteyne. 

Thus hath this robbour and this homycide, 

That many a man made to wepe and pleyne, 

Swich gerdoun as bilongeth unto pryde. 3820 

De Alexandro 

The storie of Alisaundre is so commune 
That every wight that hath discrecioun 
Hath herd somwhat or al of his fortune. 
This wyde world, as in conclusioun, 

He wan by strengthe, or for his hye renoun 3825 

They weren glad for pees unto hym sende. 
The pride of man and beest he leyde adoun 
Wher-so he cam, unto the worldes ende. 

Comparison myghte nevere yet been maked 

Bitwixen hym and another conquerour, 3830 

For al this world for drede of hym hath quaked. 

He was of knyghthod and of fredom flour, 

Fortune hym made the heir of hir honour. 

Save wyn and wommen nothyng myghte aswage 

His hye entente in armes and labour, 38i 

So was he ful of leonyn corage. 

3807 so om. ; horriblely. 3832 was om. 3834 no man. 


What pris were it to hym, though I yow tolde 

Of Darius, and an hundred thousand mo, 

Of kynges, princes, erles, dukes bolde, 

Whiche he conquered and broghte hem into wo? 3840 

I seye, as fer as man may ryde or go, 

The world was his, what sholde I moore devyse? 

For though I write or tolde yow everemo, 

Of his knyghthode it myghte nat suffise. 

Twelf yeer he regned, as seith Machabee, 3845 

Philippes sone of Macidoyne he was, 

That first was kyng in Grece the contree. 

O worthy gentil Alisandre, alias, 

That evere sholde fallen swich a cas ! 

Empoysoned of thyn owene folk thou weere; 3850 

Thy sys Fortune hath turned into aas 

And yet for thee ne weep she never a teere. 

Who shal me yeven teeris to compleyne 

The deeth of gentillesse and of franchise, 

That al the world weelded in his demeyne? 3855 

And yet hym thoughte it myghte nat suffise, 

So ful was his corage of heigh emprise. 

Alias, who shal me helpe to endite 

False Fortune, and poyson to despise, 

The whiche two of al this wo I wyte? 3860 

De Julio Cesare 

By wisedom, manhede, and by gret labour 
From humble bed to roial mageste'e 
Up roos he, Julius the conquerour, 
That wan al thoccident by land and see 
By strengthe of hand, or elles by tretee, 3865 

And unto Rome made hem tributarie; 
And sitthe of Rome the emperour was he, 
Til that Fortune weex his adversarie. 

8852 vet om. 3861 gret om. 


myghty Cesar, that in Thessalie 

Agayn Pompeus, fader thyn in lawe, 3870 

That of the Orient hadde al the chivalrye 

As fer as that the day bigynneth dawe, 

Thou thurgh thy knyghthod hast hem take and slawe, 

Save fewe folk that with Pompeus fledde, 

Thurgh which thou puttest al thorient in awe, 3875 

Thanke Fortune, that so wel thee spedde ! 

But now a litel while I wol biwaille 
This Pompeus, this noble governour 
Of Rome, which that neigh at this bataille, 

1 seye, oon of hise men, a fals traitour, 3880 
His heed of-smoot to wynnen hym favour 

Of Julius, and hym the heed he broghte; 
Alias, Pompeye, of thorient conquerour, 
That Fortune unto swich a f yn thee broghte ! 

To Rome agayn repaireth Julius, 3885 

With his triumphe lauriat ful hye; 

But on a tyme Brutus Cassius 

That evere hadde of his hye estaat envye, 

Ful prively hath maad conspiracye 

Agayns this Julius in subtil wise, 3890 

And caste the place in which he sholde dye 

With boydekyns, as I shal yow devyse. 

This Julius to the Capitolie wente 

Upon a day, as he was wont to goon ; 

And in the Capitolie anon hym hente 3895 

This false Brutus and his othere foon, 

And stiked hym with boydekyns anoon 

With many a wounde ; and thus they lete hym lye. 

But nevere gronte he at no strook but oon, 

Or elles at two, but if his storie lye. 3900 


So manly was this Julius of herte 

And so wel lovede estaatly honestee, 

That though hise deedly woundes soore smerte, 

His mantel over hise hypes caste he, 

For no man sholde seen his privetee. 3905 

And as he lay of diyng in a traunce, 

And wiste verraily that deed was hee, 

Of honestee yet hadde he remembraunce. 

Lucan, to thee this storie I recomende, 

And to Sweton, and to Valerie also, 3910 

That of this storie writen word and ende, 

How that to thise grete conqueroures two 

Fortune was first freend, and sitthe foo. 

No man ne truste upon hire favour longe 

But have hir in awayt for evere moo ! 3915 

Witnesse on alle thise conqueroures stronge. 


This riche Cresus whilom kyng of Lyde, 
Of whiche Cresus Cirus soore hym dradde, 
Yet was he caught amyddes al his pryde, 
And to be brent men to the fyr hym ladde. 3920 

But swich a reyn doun fro the welkne shadde 
That slow the fyr, and made hym to escape ; 
But to be war no grace yet he hadde, 
Til Fortune on the galwes made hym gape. 

Whanne he escaped was, he kan nat stente 3925 

For to bigynne a newe werre agayn; 

He wende wel, for that Fortune hym sente 

Swich hap that he escaped thurgh the rayn, 

That of hise foos he myghte nat be slayn; 

And eek a swevene upon a nyght he mette, 3930 

Of which he was so proud and eek so fayn 

That in vengeance he al his herte sette. 

8910 Valerius. 3912. 8916 conquerours. 


Upon a tree he was, as that hym thoughte, 

Ther Jupiter hym wessh bothe bak and syde, 

And Phebus eek a fair towaille hym broughte, 3935 

To dryen hym with ; and therf ore wax his pryde, 

And to his doghter that stood hym bisyde, 

Which that he knew in heigh science habounde, 

He bad hir telle hym what it signyfyde, 

And she his dreem bigan right thus expounde. 3940 

"The tree," quod she, "the galwes is to meene, 

And Juppiter bitokneth snow and reyn, 

And Phebus with his towaille so clene, 

Tho been the sonne stremes for to seyn. 

Thou shalt anhanged be, fader, certeyn; 3945 

Reyn shal thee wasshe, and sonne shal thee drye." 

Thus warnede hym ful plat and ful pleyn, 

His doghter, which that called was Phanye. 

Anhanged was Cresus, the proude kyng, 

His roial trone myghte hym nat availle. 3950 

Tragedie is noon oother maner thyng, 

Ne kan in syngyng crye ne biwaille, 

But for that Fortune alwey wole assaille 

With unwar strook the regnes that been proude; 

For whan men trusteth hir, thanne wol she faille, 3955 

And covere hir brighte face with a clowde. 

3944 stremes bemes. 3947 warned. 3951 Tragedies. 3953 for om 
Explicit Tragedia. 

Heere stynteth the Knyght the Monk of his tale. 


The Prologue of the Nonnes Preestes Tale. 

"Hoo !" quod the Knyght, "good sire, namoore of this, 
That ye han seyd is right ynough, ywis, 
And muchel moore, for litel hevynesse 

Is right ynough to muche folk, I gesse. 3960 

I seye for me, it is a greet disese 
Where as men han been in greet welthe and ese, 
To heeren of hir sodeyn fal, alias ! 
And the contrarie is joye and greet solas, 
As whan a man hath been in povre estaat, 3965 

And clymbeth up, and wexeth fortunat, 
And there abideth in prosperitee. 
Swich thyng is gladsom, as it thynketh me, 
And of swich thyng were goodly for to telle." 
"Ye," quod our Hoost, "by seinte Poules belle, 3970 

Ye seye right sooth ! This Monk, he clappeth lowde, 
He spak, how Fortune covered with a clowde 
I noot nevere what and also of a 'Tragedie' 
Right now ye herde ; and pardee, no remedie 
It is for to biwaille ne compleyne 3975 

That that is doon ; and als it is a peyne, 
As ye han seyd, to heere of hevynesse. 
Sire Monk, namoore of this, so God yow blesse ! 
Youre tale anoyeth al this compaignye; 
Swich talkyng is nat worth a boterflye, 3980 

For ther-inne is ther no desport ne game. 
Wherfore sir Monk, or daun Piers by youre name, 
I pray yow hertely, telle us somwhat elles, 
For sikerly, nere clynkyng of youre belles 

3957 of om. 3970 seint. 3982 or om. 



That on your bridel hange on every syde, 3985 

By hevene kyng, that for us alle dyde, 

I sholde er this han fallen doun for sleepe, 

Althogh the slough had never been so deepe; 

Thanne hadde your tale al be toold in veyn. 

For, certeinly, as that thise clerkes seyn, 3990 

Where as a man may have noon audience, 

Noght helpeth it to tellen his sentence. 

And wel I woot the substance is in me, 

If any thyng shal wel reported be. 

Sir, sey somwhat of huntyng, I yow preye." 3995 

"Nay," quod this Monk, "I have no lust to pleye; 

Not lat another telle as I have toold." 

Thanne spak oure Hoost, with rude speche and boold, 

And seyde unto the Nonnes Freest anon, 

"Com neer, thou preest, com hyder, thou, sir John, 4000 

Telle us swich thyng as may oure hertes glade; 

Be blithe, though thou ryde upon a jade. 

What thogh thyn hors be bothe foul and lene ? 

If he wol serve thee, rekke nat a bene ! 

Looke that thyn herte be murie everemo." 4005 

"Yis sir," quod he, "yis, Hoost, so moot I go, 

But I be myrie, ywis, I wol be blamed." 

And right anon his tale he hath attamed, 

And thus he seyde unto us everichon, 

This sweete preest, this goodly man sir John. 4010 


Heere bigynneth the Nonnes Preestes tale of the Cok and 
Hen, Chauntecleer and Pertelote. 

A povre wydwe, somdel stape in age, 
Was whilom dwellyng in a narwe cotage 
Biside a greve, stondynge in a dale. 
This wydwe, of which I telle yow my tale, 
Syn thilke day that she was last a wyf, 4015 

In pacience ladde a ful symple lyf, 
For litel was hir catel and hir rente. 
By housbondrie, of swich as God hir sente, 
She foond hirself and eek hire doghtren two. 
Thre large sowes hadde she, and namo, 4020 

Three keen, and eek a sheep that highte Malle. 
Ful sooty was hir hour and eek hire halle, 
In which she eet ful many a sklendre meel 
Of poynaunt sauce hir neded never a deel. 
No deyntee morsel passed thurgh hir throte, 4025 

Hir diete was accordant to hir cote. 
Repleccioun ne made hir nevere sik, 
Attempree diete was al hir phisik, 
And exercise, and hertes suffisaunce. 

The goute lette hir nothyng for to daunce, 4030 

Napoplexie shente nat hir heed. 
No wyn ne drank she, neither whit ne reed, 
Hir bord was served moost with whit and blak, 
Milk and broun breed, in which she foond no lak, 
Seynd bacoun, and somtyme an ey or tweye, 4035 

For she was as it were a maner deye. 
A yeerd she hadde, enclosed al aboute 
With stikkes, and a drye dych withoute, 
In which she hadde a Cok, heet Chauntecleer, 
In al the land of crowyng nas his peer. 4040 



His voys was murier than the murie orgon 

On messedayes, that in the chirche gon. 

Wei sikerer was his crowyng in his logge, 

Than is a clokke, or an abbey orlogge. 

By nature he crew eche ascencioun 4045 

Of the equynoxial in thilke toun; 

For whan degrees fiftene weren ascended, 

Thanne crew he, that it myghte nat been amended. 

His coomb was redder than the fyn coral, 

And batailled, as it were a castel wal. 4050 

His byle was blak, and as the jeet it shoon, 

Lyk asure were hise legges and his toon, 

Hise nayles whiter than the lylye flour, 

And lyk the burned gold was his colour. 

This gentil cok hadde in his governaunce 4055 

Sevene hennes, for to doon al his plesaunce, 

Whiche were hise sustres and his paramours, 

And wonder lyk to hym as of colours ; 

Of whiche the faireste hewed on hir throte 

Was cleped faire damoysele Pertelote. 4060 

Curteys she was, discreet, and debonaire 

And compaignable, and bar hyrself so faire 

Syn thilke day that she was seven nyght oold, 

That trewely she hath the herte in hoold 

Of Chauntecleer loken in every lith. 4065 

He loved hir so, that wel was hym therwith. 

But swiche a joye was it to here hem synge 

Whan that the brighte sonne gan to sprynge, 

In sweete accord, "My lief is faren in londe," 

For thilke tyine, as I have understonde, 4070 

Beestes and briddes koude speke and synge. 

And so bifel, that in the dawenynge, 
As Chauntecleer, among hise wyves alle, 
Sat on his perche, that was in the halle, 
And next hym sat this faire Pertelote, *. 

4053 whitter. 4068 bigan. 


This Chauntecleer gan gronen in his throte 

As man that in his dreem is drecched score. 

And whan that Pertelote thus herde hym roore 

She was agast, and seyde, "O herte deere, 

What eyleth yow, to grone in this manere ? 4080 

Ye been a verray sleper, fy for shame !" 

And he answerde and seyde thus, "Madame, 

I pray yow that ye take it nat agrief. 

By God, me thoughte I was in swich meschief 

Right now, that yet myn herte is score afright. 4085 

Now God," quod he, "my swevene recche aright, 

And kepe my body out of foul prisoun. 

Me mette how that I romed up and doun 

Withinne our yeerd, wheer as I saugh a beest 

Was lyk an hound, and wolde han maad areest 4090 

Upon my body, and han had me deed. 

His colour was bitwixe yelow and reed, 

And tipped was his tayl and bothe hise eeris 

With blak, unlyk the remenant of hise heeris ; 

His snowte smal, with glowynge eyen tweye. 4095 

Yet of his look, for f eere almoost I deye ! 

This caused me my gronyng, doutelees." 

"Avoy !" quod she, "Fy on yow hertelees ! 

Alias," quod she, "for by that God above 

Now han ye lost myn herte and al my love! 4100 

I kan nat love a coward, by my f eith, 

For certes, what so any womman seith, 

We alle desiren, if it myghte bee, 

To han housbondes hardy, wise, and free, 

And secree, and no nygard, ne no fool, 4105 

Ne hym that is agast of every tool, 

Ne noon avauntour ; by that God above, 

How dorste ye seyn for shame unto youre love 

That any thyng myghte make yow af erd ? 

Have ye no mannes herte, and han a berd? 4110 

Alias, and konne ye been agast of swevenys ? 



No thyng, God woot, but vanitee in swevene is ! 

Swevenes engendren of replecciouns, 

And ofte of fume and of complecciouns, 

Whan humours been to habundant in a wight. 4115 

Certes, this dreem which ye han met tonyght 

Cometh of greet superfluytee 

Of youre rede colera, pardee, 

Which causeth folk to dreden in hir dremes 

Of arwes, and of fyre with rede lemes, 4120 

Of grete beestes, that they wol hem byte, 

Of contekes, and of whelpes grete and lyte ; 

Right as the humour of malencolie 

Causeth ful many a man in sleep to crie 

For feere of blake beres, or boles blake, 4125 

Or elles blake develes wole hem take. 

Of othere humours koude I telle also 

That werken many a man in sleep ful wo, 

But I wol passe as lightly as I kan. 

Lo Catoun, which that was so wys a man, 4130 

Seyde he nat thus, 'ne do no fors of dremes' ? \\adf { 

Now, sire," quod she, "whan ye flee fro the bernes. 
For goddes love as taak som laxatyf ! ^X*^ ^^ 
Up peril of my soule. and of my.lvf, * 
I conseille yow uiejfeste^I wolnat lye, 4135 

That bothe of cofereand of malencolye ^u^^i J *jL~ 
Ye purge yow ; and f or*y& shaTnattarie, / * 

Though in this toun is noon apothecarie, 
I shal myself to herbes techen yo^ 
That shul been for youre hele and for youre 
And in oure yeerd tho herbes shal I fynde, ) 
The whiche han of hir.propretee by kynde 
To purge yow byneme and eek above. 

Foryet nat this, for Goddes owene love ! m^r^ 
Ye been ful coreryKoT compleccioun ; W"jr 
Ware the sonne in his ascencioun 
Ne fynde yow nat repleet of humours hoote. 




And if it do, I dar wel leye % grote 

That ye shul have a fevere terciane, 

Or an agu that may be youre bane. 

A day or two ye shul have digestyves 

Of wormes, er ye take youre laxatyves 

Of lawriol, centaur e, and fumetere, ' 

Or elles of ellebor that groweth there, 

Of kalapuce/or^of gaitrys beryis, -^-*-cX* ^X^c 

Ofherbe yvey^rowyng in oure yeerd, ther mery is ! 

Peldteliem up right as they growe, and ete hem yn ! 

Be myrie^housbonde, for youre fader kyn, 

Drede-Enno dreem, I kan sey vow namoore !" 

"Madame," quod he, "grauntmercyofyoure.loore, 
But natnelees, as touchyng Daun Catoun, * 
That hath of wysdom swich a greet renoun, 
Though that he bad no dremes for to drede, 
By God, men may in olde bookes rede 
Of many a man moore of auciorite 
Than evere Caton was, so mootl thee, 
That al the revers seynpf this sentence, 
And han wel foundenqy experience 
That dremes been significaciouns 
As wel of joye as of tribulaciouns 
That folk enduren in this lif present. 
Ther nedeth make of this noon argument, 
The verray preeve sheweth it in dede. 
Oon of the gretteste auctours that men rede 
Seith thus, that whilom two felawes wente 
On pilgrimage in a ful good entente; 
And happed so, they coomen in a toun 
Wher as ther was swich congregacioun 
Of peple, and eek so streit of herbergaj 
That they ne founde as muche as o cotage 
In which they bothe myghte logged bee ; 
Wherfore they mosten of necessitee 

4174 auctour. 









As for that nyght departen compaignye, . 

And ech of hem gooth to his hostelrye, / ^x>^^^> 

And took his loggyng as it wolde falle. 4185 

That oon of hem was logged in a stalle, 

Fer in a yeerd, with oxen of the plough; 

That oother man was logged wel ynough, 

As was his aventure or his fortune, 

That us governeth alle as in commune. 4190 

And so bifel, that longe er it were day 
This man mette m his bed, ther as he lay, 
How that his felawe gan upon hym calle 
And seyde, 'Alias, for in an oxes stalle 

This nyght I shal be mordred, ther I lye! t 4195 

Now help me, deere brother, or I dye; 
In alle haste com to me !' he sayde. 
This man out of his sleep for feere abrayde 
But whan that he was wakened of his sleep, 
He turned hym and took of it no keep. *JMq .1 4200 

Hym thoughte, his dreem nas but a vanitee. 
Thus twies in his slepyng.dremed hee, 
And atte thrmde tyme yeMiis felawe 
Cam, as hym thoughte, and seide, 'I am now slawe, 
Bihoold my bloody woundes depe and wyde ; 4205 

Arys up erly in the morwe-tyde, 
And at the west gate of the toun/ quod he, 
'A carte ful of donge ther shaltow se, 
In which my body is hid ful privel 

Do thilke carte arresten boldely; 4210 

My gold caused my mordre, sooth to sayn.' 
And tolde hym every point, how he was slayn, 
With a ful pitous face, pale of hewe ; ty\W* 
And truste wel, his dreem he foond ful trewe. 
For on the morw-eTaT s-oone as it was day, 4215 

To his felawes inne IOOK the way, 
And whan that he cam to this oxes stalle, 
After his felawe he bigan to calle. 



The hostiler answerde hym anon, 

And seyde, 'Sire,, your felawe is agon, 

As soone as day he wente out of the toun.' 

This man gan fallen in suspecioun, 

Remembrynge on hise dremes that he mette. 

And forth he gooth, no lenger wolde he lette, 

Unto the westgate of the toun; and fond 

A dong carte, as it were to donge lond, 

That was arrayed in that same wise, 

As ye han herd the dede man devyse. 

And with an hardy herte he gan to crye, 

'Vengeance and justice of this felonye; 

My felawe mordred is this same nyght, 

And in this carte he lith gapyng upright. 

I crye out on the ministres/ quod he, 

'That sholden kepe and reulen this citee ! 

Harrow! alias, heere lith my felawe slayn!' 

What sholde I moore unto this tale sayn? 

The peple out-sterTe/and caste the cart to grounde, 

And in the myddel of the dong they founde 

The dede man, that mordred was al newe 

O blisful God, that art so Just and trewe ! 
Lo, howe that thou biwreyest mordre alway ! 
Mordre wol out. that sewe, day by day. 
Mordre is so wlatsom and abhomynable 
To God that is so just and resonable, 
That he ne wol nat suffre it heled be, 
Though it abyde a yeer, or two, or thre. 
Mordre wol out, this my conclusioun. 
And right anon ministres of that toun 
Han hen?tne carter, and so soore hym pyned, 
And eek the hostiler so soore engyned 
That they biknewe hire wikkednesse anon, 
And were anhanged by the nekke bon. 
Heere may men seen, that dremes been to drede ! 

And certes, in the same book I rede 




/ * 







Righ^ in the nexte chapitre after this 4255 

I gaoDe nat, so have I joye or blis 

Two men that wolde han passed over see 

For certeyn cause, into a fer contree, 

If that the wynd ne hadde been contrarie, 

That made hem in a citee for to tarie, 4260 

That stood ful myrTe > upo5l an haven-syde - 

But on a day, agayn the even-tyde^^v- ~l * . . 

The wynd gan chaunge, and blew right as hem leste. ifc*'rffw|pj\_ 

Jolif and gladthey wente unto hir reste, 2^ 

And CHStennem ful erly for to saille, 4265 

But herkneth, to that o man fil a greet mervaille; 

That oon of hem, in slepyng as he \ay, 

Hym mette a wonder dreem a^gajn tne day. 

Hym thoughte a man stood by his beddes syde, 

And hym comanded that he sholde abyde, 4270 

And seyde hym thus, 'If/thou tomorwe 

Thow shalt be dre?ynY;my tale is at an ende.' 

He wook, and tolde his felawe what he mette, 

And preyde hym his viage for to lette, 

As for that day, he preyede hym to byde. J^9*f> 4275 

His felawe, that lay by his beddes syde, i I ' 

Gan for to laughe and scorned him ful faste. /V-vV"^ 

'No dreem,' quod,he, 'may so myn herte agaste 

That I wol lette fof to do my thynges. 

I sette nat a straw by thy dremynges, 

For swevenesbeen but vanytees and japes. 

Men dreme al day of owles or of apes, . .. 

And of many a maze therwithal. -4-cA^*^* 4 *^ ^w 

Men dreme of thyng that nevere was, ne shal; 

But sith I see that thou wolt heere abyde 4285 

And thus f or slewthenwil fully thy tyde, 

God woot it rewethme, and have good day.' 

And thus he took his leve and wente his way ; 

But er that he hadde half his cours yseyled, 

4274 for om. 4275 preyde. 



' Ji "it 

Noot I nat why, ne what myschaunce it eyled, C^-A x -* / \4290 

But ca?uellytheshippes botme rente, 

And ship and men under the water wente 

In sighte of othere shippes it bisyde, , , 

That with hem seyled at the same tyde. J*~~*** 

And therfore, faire Pertelote so deere, 4295 

By swiche ensamples olde yet maistow 

That no man sholde been to recchelees 

Of dremes, for I seye thee doutelees 

That many a dreem ful soore is for to drede. 

Lo, in the lyf ofSdnt Kenelm I rede, 4300 

That was Kenulpmresone, the noble kyng, 

/-\ f -\ T^TT^T^T^ 1 ^! T7" 1 j_j_ _ - j.1 

Ojj Mjy^enrikehow Kenelm mette a thyng. 
A lite erne was mordred, on a day 
His mordre in his avysioun he say. ^^**"" ' 
His nonce hym expowned every deel 4305 

His swevene, and bad hym for to kepe hym weel 
For traisoun, but he nas but seven yeer oold, 
And therfore litel talehath he toold 
Of any dreem, so hootyishis herte. 
By God, I hadde levere than my sherte 4310 

That ye hadde rad his legende, as have I. 
Dame Pertelote, I sey yow trewely, 
Macrobeus, that writ the avisioun 
In Affrike of the worthy Cipioun, 
Affermeth dremes, and seith that they been 4315 

Warnynge of thynges, that men after seen. 
And forther-moore I pray yow looketh wel 
In the olde testament of Daniel, 
If he heeld dremes any vanitee! 

Reed eek of Joseph, and ther shul ye see 4320 

Wher dremes be somtyme, I sey nat alle, 
Warnynge of thynges that shul after falle. 
Looke of Egipte the kyng, daun Pharao, 
His baker and his butiller 
4302 Mertenrike. 



Wher they ne felte noon effect jnjj^emes! @ 4325 

Whoso wol seken actes of sondry r ernes jk^^fyf*^^ 

May rede of dremes many a wonder thyng. 

Lo Criesuspwliich that was of Lyde kyng, 

Mette he nat that he sat upon a tree, 

Which signified, he sholde anhanged bee? A/ ^-v-* 4330 

Lo here Adromacha, Ectores wyf, / 

That day that Ector sholde lese his lyf 

She dremed on the same nyght biforn 

How that the lyf of Ector sholde be lorn, 

If thilke day he wente into bataille. *^~>C&\** 4335 

She warned hym, but it myghte nat availle; 

He wente for to fighte natheles, /^rCr '**+>JL*^-'*> 

But he was slayn anon of Achilles. 

But tmTke is al to longe for to telle, 

And eek it is ny aay, I may nat dwelle. 4340 

Shortly I seye, as for conclusioun, 

That I shal han of this avisioun 

Adversitee,and Iseye forthermoor 

That I ne telle of laxatyves no stoor, 

For they been venyn?es7 I woot it weel, . * 4345 

A^^ ^ M Jm 

I hem diffye, I love hem never a deel. **'* 

Now let us speke of myrthe, and st^nte al this ; 
Madame Pertelote, so have I blis, 
Of o thyng God hath sent me large grace, 
For whan I se the beautee of youre face, 4350 

Ye been so scarlet reed aboute youre eyen, 
It maketh aLmy drede for to dyen. 40XA-" tV^s 
For, al so sikeras In principio 
Mulier est hominis confusio, 

Madame, the sentence of this Latyn is, . 435; 

'Womman is mannes joye and al his blis.' 
For whan I feele a-nyght your softe syde, 
Al be it that I may nat on yow ryde. /v ^/~ - ' 
For that oure perche is maad so narwe, alias ! 
I am so ful of joye and of solas, \ \AtjJ^ 43( 


, ^*~r^ 9 fc *^4375 


That I diffye bothe swevene and dreem." 
And with that word he fly doun fro the beem, 
For it was day, and eke hise hennes alle; 
And with a chuk he gan he.m for to calle, 

r he hadde founde a corn lay in the yerd. 4365 

al he was, he was namoore af erd ; 
And f ether ed Pertelote twenty tyme, 
And tradasoFte, er that it was pryme. * , 

He looketh as it were a grym leoun, ) A*?*. ^ 
And on hise toos he rometh up and doun, 4370 

Hym deigned nat to sette his foot to grounde. 
He chukketh whan he hath a corn yfounde, 
And to hym rennen thanne hise wyves alle. 
Thus roial as a prince is in an halle, 
Leve I this Chauntecleer in his pasture, 
And after wol I telle his aventure. 

Whan that the monthe in which the world bigan 
That halite March, whan God first maked man, 
Was complect, and passed were also 

Syn March bigan, thritty dayes and two, 4380 

Bifel that Chauntecleer in al his pryde, 
Hise sevene wyves walkynge by his syde, 
Caste up hise eyen to the brighte sonne, 
That in the signe of Taurus hadde yronne "VU- - 
Twenty degrees an^J oon, and somwhat moore; 4385 

And knew by Kjude^arid by noon oother loore, 
That it was pryme, and crew with blisful stevene. 
"The sonne/' he seyde, "is clomben upon hevene 
Fourty degrees and oon, and moore, ywis. 
Madame Pertelote, my worldes blis, 4390 

Herkneth thise blisful brmde?now they synge, 
And se the fresshe floures how they sprynge. 
Ful is myn herte of revel and solas." <^A^L\^ 
But sodeynly hym fil a sorweful cas, 
For evere the latter ende of joye is wo. 4395 

4368 that om. 




God woot thatwprldly joye is soone ago, 
And if a rethorKOude faire endite, 

He in a crony cle sauJTy myghte it 

A t C ~fy&***&'i'i<* 

As lor a sovereyn notabmtee. 

Now every wys man, lat him herkne me: 
This storie is al so trewe, I undertake, 
As is the book of Launcelot de Lake, *^ 
That wommen holde in ful greet reverence. 
Now wol I come agayn to my sentence. 
A colfox, ful of sly iniquitee../ * 

That in the grove hadde wonpeaTveres thi 
-o , . , fc u<u -t/u r ^~fc<v<x 

.By heigh ymagmacioun lorn-cast, 

The same nyght thurghout the hegges brast 
Into the yerd, ther Chauntecleer the faire 
Was wont, and eek h^e wyves, to repaire; 
And in a bed of wortes stille he lay, 
Til it was passed undren 01 the day, 
Waitynge his tyme on Chauntecleer to falle, 
As gladly doon thise Ijomycides alle 
That in await liggen To rhordre men. 
O false mordrour,Jnrkynge in thy den! 
O newe StfarioTTnewe Genyloun! /5-tra 
AflQtflMtriialse dissymulour, O Greek Synoun 

That broghtest Troye al ouffelyco sorwe I 







O Chauntecleer, acursed be that morwe 

That thou into that yerd flaugh fro the bemes ! jt * 

Thou were ful wel y warned by thy dr ernes >t^vi^^)r I 

That thilke day was perilous to thee; 

But what that God forwootnioot neaes bee, 

After the opinioun of certein clerkis. t-*^v^ 

Witnesse on hym, that any parfit clerk is, 

That in scole is greet altercacioun 

In this mateere, and greet disputisoun, 

And hath been of an hundred thousand men ; 

But I ne kan nat bulte it to the bre 

As kan the hooly doclour Augustyn, 




Or Boece or the Bisshop Bradwardyn, 

Or elles, if free choys be graunted me 
To do that same thyng,. or do it noght, V-^ 
Though Godforwoot it, er that it was wroght; 
Or if his wityng streyneth never a deel 

But by necessitee condicioneel, 
I wil nat han to do of swich mateere; 
My tale is of a Cok, as ye may heere, 
That took his conseil of his wyf, with sorwe, 
To walken in the yerd, upon that morwe 
That he hadde met that dreem, that I of tolde. 
Wommennes conseils been ful ofte colde; 
Wommannes conseil broghte us first to wo, 
And made Adam fro Paradys to go, 0* 
Ther as hejwas fu^m^ietand wel at ese. 
But for I noot fowhom it myght displese, 
If I conseil of wommen wolde blame, * 

Passe over, for I seye it in my game. Qtfr&'V* * 
Rede auctours, wher they trete of swich mateere, 
And what they seyn of wommen ye may heere. 
Thise been the cokkes wordes, and nat myne, 
I kan noon harm of no womman divyne. 
>V Faire in the sSoxid, to bathe hire myrily, 
!tith Pertelote, and alle hir sustres by. 

4\* *-- f 

Agayn the sonne; and Chauntecleer so free 
Soong murier than the mermayde in the see 
For Phisiologus seith sikerly 
How that they syngen wel and myrily. 
And so bifel, that/ as he cast his eye 


Among the wortesxm a boterflye, 

He was war of this fox that lay ful lowe. 

Nothyng ne liste hym thanne for to crowe, 

4448 -fro out o 




) . 




But cride anon, "cok ! cokTand up he sterte, 
As man that was aiFra^eouimfe herte. 
For nSureefnTa beest desireth flee 

Fro his contrarie. if he may it see, 4470 

Though he neverersYTiadde seyn it with his eye. 
This Chauntecleer, whan he gan hym espye, 
He wolde nan fled, but that the fox anon ^* 
Seyde, "GentiL sire, alias, wher wol ye gon? 
Be ye affrayeci of me that am youre freend? A 4475 

Now certes, I were worse than a feend p^sr*^' 
If I to yow wolde harm or vileynye. -4>*"*\5*1)^* **\ 
I am nat come your conseil for tespye, 
But trewely, the cause of my comynge 
Was oonly for to herkne how that ye synge. .. 4480 

For trewely, ye have as myrie a stevene /^*&~t><4S 
As any aungel hath that is in hevene. 
Therwith ye han in musyk moore feelynge 
Than hadde Bcece/or any that kan synge. 
My lord youre fader God his soule blesse ! 4485 

And eek youre mooder, of hir gentillesse dt rf* \f + <jf 
Han in myn hous ybeen, to my greet ese ; 
And certes, sire, ful fayn wolde I yow plese. 
But for men speke of syngyng, I wol seye, 
So moote I lo?ctifl> wel myne eyen tweye, 44QO 

Save yow I herde nevere man yet synge 
As dide youre fader in the morwenynge. '^ ^ 
Certes, it was of herte al that he song ! 
And for to make his voys the moore jstrong, 
He wolde so peyne hym, that with bothe hise eyen 4495 
He moste_wynke, so loude he wolde cryen, 
And stonden on his tiptoon therwithal, 
And strecche forth his nekke long and smal. 
And eek he was of swich discrecioun, 

That ther nas no man in no regioun, 45( 

That hym in song or wisedom myghte passe. /vQfl 

4482 hath om. 4489 yow seye. 4491 herde I. rW*' >| 



I have wel rad in daun Burnel the Asse 
Among hise vers, how that ther was a cok, 
For that a preestes sone yaf hym a knok, 
Upon his leg, whil he was yong and nyce, 
He made hym for to lese his benefice. j(^fy^ 
But certeyn, ther nys no comparisoun 
Bitwixe the wisedom and discrecioun 
Of youre fader, and of his subtiltee. 
Now syngeth, sire, for seinte charitee, 
Lat se konne ye youre fader countref etc !" 
This Chauntecleer hise wynges gan to bete, 
As man that koude his traysoun nat espie, 
So was he ravysshed with his flaterie. 

Alias, ye lordes ! many a f als flatour 
Is in youre courtes, and many a losengeour, 
That plesen yow wel moore, by my feith, 
Than he that soothfastnesse unto yow seith. 
Redeth Ecctesias^on 




Beth war, ye lordes, of hir'treclierye. 
This Chauntecleer stood hye upon his toos, 
Strecchynge his nekke, and heeld hise eyen cloos, 
And gan- to crowe loude for the nones, 
And dauir'Russell the fox stirte up atones, 
And by the gargathente Chauntecleer, 
And on his bak toward the wode hym beer, 
For yet ne was ther no man that hym sewed. 
O destinee, that mayst nat been eschewed ! 
Alias, that Chauntecleer flpgh fro the bemes ! 
Alias, his wyf ne rognl^nM^o'? dremes ! 
And on a Friday fil al this meschaunce. <&^* 
O Venus, that art goddesse of plesaunce ! 
Syn that thy servant was this Chauntecleer, 
And in thy service dide al his^ poweer.^ 
Moore for cfeitf%ia*i worTStoTn^ltiplye, 
Why woltestow suffre hym on thy day to dye? 
O Gaufred, deere Maister soverayn! 


** "ft"**-* 







Why ne hadde I ^now thy sentencean 
The Friday fo&o'&ide, as didelT^ 

That whan thy worthy kyng Richard was slayn 
With shot, compleynedest his deeth go soore/^^^xC 

ntenceanS thjloore^y 
didelT^P-^'T / ' 
For on a Friday soothly slayn was he. 
Thanne wolde I shewe yow, how that I koude pleyne 
For Chauntecleres drede and for his peyne. 
Certes, swich cry ne lamentacioun 
Was nevere of ladyes maad, whan Ylioun 
Was wonne, and Pirrus with his streite swerd, 
Whan he hadde hent kyng Priam by the herd, 
And slayn hym, as seith us Eneydos, fotJ&^f 
As maden alle the hennes in the clos, 
Whan they had seyn of Chauntecleer the sighte. 
But sover^ynfyllame Pertelote shrighte 
Ful louder than dide Hasdrubales wyf, 
Whan that hir housbonde hadde lost his lyf, 
And that the Roina^ns nadde breruTTJartage ; 
She was so ful of torment and of rage 
That'Vilfeffyin'to the fyr she sterte, 
And brende hirselven with a stedefast herte. 
O woful hennes, right so criden ye, 
As whan that Nero brende the Citee- 
Of Rome, cryoen senatoures wyves, 
For that hir husbondes losten alle hir lyves, 
Withouten ilt this Nero hath hem slayn. , ( 
Now I wole turne to my tale agayn. *~J+^r*i 
This sely wydwe, and eek hir doghtres two, 
Herden thise hennes crie, and maken wo, 
And out at dores stirten they anon, 
And syen the fox toward the grove gon, 
And bar upon his bak the cok away ; 
And cry den, "Out ! harrow ! and weylaway ! 
Ha! ha! the fox!", and after hym they ran, 
And eek with st^tfesidany another man, 
4552 sodeynly. 4561 senatours. 4564 turne I wole. 









Ran Colle, oure dogge, and Talbot, and Gerland, 

And Malkyn with a dystaf in hir hand, 

Ran cow and calf, and eek the verray hogges, 4575 

So were they fered for berkyng of the dogges, 

And shoutyng of the men and wommen eek, 

They ronne so. hem thoughte hir herte breek 

They yolleoenas f eendes doon in helle, 

The ddkescryden as men wolde hem quelle, ^^-^<^i 4580 

The gees for feere flowen over the trees, 

Out of the hyve cam the swarm of bees, 

So hydous was the noyse, a ! benedicitee ! 

Certes, he Jakke Straw and his meynee 

Ne made nevere shoutes half so shille, -' . 4585 

Whan that they wolden any Flemyng kille, // 

As thilke day was maad upon the fox. 

Of bras they broghten bemes and of box, 

Of horn, of boon, in whiche they blewe and powped, 

And therwithal they skriked and they howped, 4590 

It seemed as that hevene sholde falle! 

Now, goode men, I pray yow, herkneth alle. 

Lo, how Fortune turneth sodeynly 
The hope and pryde eek of hir enemy ! 

This cok, that lay upon the foxes bak, 45Q5 

In al his dfeSeunto the fox he spak, 
And seyde, "Sire, if that I were as ye, 
Yet wolde I seyn, as wys God helpe me, 
'Turneth agayn, ye proude cherles alle, 
A verray pestilence upon yow falle ! 4600 

Noy am I come unto the wodes syde, 
'Maugrl'e youre heed, the cok shal heere abyde, 
I wol hym ete, in feith, and that anon.' " 
The fox answerde, "In feith, it shal be don." 
And as he spak that word, al sodeynly * 4605 

This cok brak from his mouth delyverly, V^\x-v~" / S 
And heighe upon a tree he fleigh anon. J 

4575 eek om. 4576 were they om. 4594 Relcom. 



And whan the fox saugh that he was gon, 
"Alias !" quod he, "O Chauntecleer, alias ! 
I have to yow," quod he, "ydoon trespas, 
In as muche as I maked yow aferd, 
Whan I yow hentePana broght into this yerd. 
But, sire, I dide it of no wikke entente, 
Com doun, and I shal telle yow what I mente ; 
I shal seye sooth to yow, God help me so." 
"Nay, thanne," quod he, "I shrewe us bothe two, 
And first I shrewe myself bothe blood and bones, 
If thou bigyiemeiDfter than ones. 
Thou shalt namoore, thurgh thy flaterye, 
Do me to synge a/id wynke with myn eye ; 
For he that wynketh whan he sholde see, 
Al wilfully, God lat him nevere thee." 
"Nay," quod the fox, "but God yeve hym meschaunce, 
That is so undLscreet of governaunce, 
That j angleth, wnan he sliolde holde his pees." 

Lo, swich it is for to be recchelees, 
And necligent, and truste on flaterye ! 
But ye that holden this tale a folye, 
As of a foXj or of a cok and hen, 
Taketh the moralite, goode men; 
For seint Paul seith, that al that writen is, 
To oure docTrme^tls ywrite, ywis. 
Taketh the fruytj and lat the chaf be stille. 
Now goode God, if that it be thy wille, 
As seith my lord, so make us alle goode men, 
And brynge us to his heighe blisse. Amen. 
4618 any ofter. 

Heere is ended the Nonnes Preestes tale. 




' K " 




NOTE. The sixteen lines of Epilogue to this Tale are here omitted. The 
tone, and in part, the very words, are a repetition of the Prologue to the 
Monkes Tale. This cannot have been Chaucer's intention, and the Epilogue 
may therefore be either spurious, or a trial link, rejected after the Monkes 
Prologue was written. 



Heere folweth the Phisiciens tale. 

Ther was, as telleth Titus Livius, 
A knyght that called was Virginius, 
Fulfild of honour and of worthynesse, 
And strong of freendes, and of greet richesse. 
This knyght a doghter hadde by his wyf, 5 

No children hadde he mo in al his lyf . 
Fair was this mayde in excellent beautee 
Aboven every wight that man may see. 
For Nature hath with sovereyn diligence 
Yformed hir in so greet excellence, 10 

As though she wolde seyn, "Lo, I, Nature, 
Thus kan I forme and peynte a creature 
Whan that me list; who kan me countrefete? 
Pigmalion noght, though he ay forge and bete, 
Or grave, or peynte, for I dar wel seyn 15 

Apelles, Zanzis sholde werche in veyn 
Outher to grave or peynte, or forge, or bete, 
If they presumed me to countrefete. 
For He that is the former principal 

Hath maked me his vicaire general 20 

To forme and peynten erthely creaturis 
Right as me list, and ech thyng in my cure is 
Under the Moone, that may wane and waxe, 
And for my werk right nothyng wol I axe. 
My lord and I been ful of oon accord ; 25 

I made hir to the worship of my lord, 
So do I alle myne othere creatures, 
What colour that they han, or what figures." 

2 was called. 



Thus semeth me that Nature wolde seye. 

This mayde of age twelf yeer was and tweye, SO 

In which that Nature hadde swich delit. 
For right as she kan peynte a lilie whit, 
And reed a rose, right with swich peynture 
She peynted hath this noble creature, 

Er she were born, upon hir lymes fre, 35 

Where as by right swiche colours sholde be. 
And Phebus dyed hath hir treses grete, 
Lyk to the stremes of his burned heete ; 
And if that excellent was hir beautee, 

A thousand foold moore vertuous was she. 40 

In hire ne lakked no condicioun 
That is to preyse, as by discrecioun; 
As wel in goost as body chast was she, 
For which she floured in virginitee 

With alle humylitee and abstinence, 45 

With alle attemperaunce and patience, 
With mesure eek of beryng and array. 
Discreet she was in answeryng alway, 
Though she were wise Pallas, dar I seyn, 
Hir f acound eek f ul wommanly and pleyn, 50 

No countrefeted termes hadde she 
To seme wys, but after hir degree 
She spak, and alle hir wordes, moore and lesse, 
Sownynge in vertu and in gentillesse. 

Shamefast she was in maydens shamefastnesse, 55 

Constant in herte, and evere in bisynesse 
To dryve hir out of ydel slogardye. 
Bacus hadde of hire mouth right no maistrie ; 
For wyn and youthe dooth Venus encresse, 
As man in fyr wol casten oille or greesse. 60 

And of hir owene vertu unconstreyned, 
She hath ful ofte tyme syk hir feyned, 
For that she wolde fleen the compaignye 

50 and a. 55 in om. 60 wasten. 



Wher likly was to treten of folye, 

As is at feestes, revels, and at daunces 65 

That been occasions of daliaunces. 
Swich thynges maken children for to be 
To soone rype and boold, as men may se, 
Which is f ul perilous, and hath been yoore ; 
For al to soone may they lerne loore 70 

Of booldnesse, whan she woxen is a wyf. 
And ye maistresses, in youre olde lyfy 
That lordes doghtres han in governaunce, 
Ne taketh of my wordes no displesaunce ; 
Thenketh that ye been set in governynges 75 

Of lordes doghtres, oonly for two thynges ; 
Outher for ye han kept youre honestee, 
Or elles ye han falle in freletee, 
And knowen wel ynough the olde daunce, 
And han forsaken fully swich meschaunce 80 

For everemo; therfore for Cristes sake, 
To teche hem vertu looke that ye ne slake. 
A theef of venysoun, that hath forlaft 
His likerousnesse, and al his olde craft, 

Kan kepe a forest best of any man. 85 

Now kepeth wel, for if ye wole, ye kan. 
Looke wel that ye unto no vice assente, 
Lest ye be dampned for your wikke entente. 
For who so dooth, a traitour is, certeyn ; 
And taketh kepe of that that I shal seyn, 90 

Of alle tresons, sovereyn pestilence 
Is whan a wight bitrayseth innocence. 
Ye fadres and ye moodres, eek also, 
Though ye han children, be it oon or two, 
Youre is the charge of al hir surveiaunce 95 

Whil that they been under youre governaunce. 
Beth war, if by ensample of youre lyvynge, 
Or by youre necligence in chastisynge, 

69 thyng. 



That they perisse, for I dar wel seye, 

If that they doon ye shul it deere abeye; 100 

Under a shepherde softe and necligent 

The wolf hath many a sheep and lamb to-rent. 

Suffyseth oon ensample now as here, 

For I moot turne agayn to my mateere. 

. This mayde, of which I wol this tale expresse, 105 

So kepte hirself, hir neded no maistresse. 

For in hir lyvyng maydens myghten rede, 

As in a book, every good word or dede 

That longeth to a mayden vertuous, 

She was so prudent and so bountevous. 110 

For which the fame out-sprong on every syde 

Bothe of hir beautee and hir bountee wyde, 

That thurgh that land they preised hire echone 

That loved vertu ; save envye allone, 

That sory is of oother mennes wele, 115 

And glad is of his sorwe and his unheele 

The doctour maketh this descripcioun. 
This mayde upon a day wente in the toun 

Toward a temple, with hir mooder deere, 

As is of yonge maydens the manere. 120 

Now was ther thanne a justice in that toun, 

That governour was of that regioun, 

And so bifel this juge hise eyen caste 

Upon this mayde, avysynge hym ful faste 

As she cam forby, ther as this juge stood. 125 

Anon his herte chaunged and his mood, 

So was he caught with beautee of this mayde, 

And to hymself ful pryvely he sayde, 

"This mayde shal be myn, for any man." 

\ Anon the feend into his herte ran, 13( 

VAnd taughte hym sodeynly, that he by slyghte 

The mayden to his purpos wynne myghte. 

For certes, by no force, ne by no meede, 

Hym thoughte he was nat able for to speede ; 


For she was strong of freendes, and eek she 135 

Confermed was in swich soverayn bountee, 

That wel he wiste he myghte hir nevere wynne, 

As for to maken hir with hir body synne. 

For which, by greet deliberacioun, 

He sente after a cherl, was in the toun, 140 

Which that he knew for subtil and for boold. 

This Juge unto this cherl his tale hath toold 

In secree wise, and made hym to ensure 

He sholde telle it to no creature, 

And if he dide, he sholde lese his heed. 145 

Whan that assented was this cursed reed, 

Glad was this juge, and maked him greet cheere, 

And yaf hym yiftes preciouse and deere. 

Whan shapen was al hir conspiracie 

Fro point to point, how that his lecherie 150 

Parfourned sholde been ful subtilly, 
(As ye shul heere it after openly) 
Hoom gooth the cherl, that highte Claudius. 
This false juge, that highte Apius, 

So was his name for this is no fable, 155 

But knowen for historial thyng notable ; 
The sentence of it sooth is out of doute 
This false juge gooth now faste aboute 
To hasten his delit al that he may. 

And so bifel soone after on a day, 160 

This false juge, as telleth us the storie, 
As he was wont, sat in his consistorie, 
And yaf his doomes upon sondry cas. 
This false cherl cam forth a ful greet pas 
And seyde, "Lord, if that it be youre wille, 165 

As dooth me right upon this pitous bille 
In which I pleyne upon Virginius; 
And if that he wol seyn it is nat thus, 
I wol it preeve, and fynde good witnesse 
That sooth is, that my bille wol expresse." 170 


The juge answerde, "Of this in his absence, 
I may nat yeve diffynytyve sentence. 
Lat do hym calle, and I wol gladly heere. 
Thou shalt have al right and no wrong heere." 
Virginias cam to wite the juges wille, 175 

And right anon was rad this cursed bille. 
The sentence of it was, as ye shul heere: 
"To yow, my lord, Sire Apius so deere, 
Sheweth youre povre servant Claudius, 

How that a knyght called Virginius 180 

Agayns the lawe, agayn al equitee, 
Holdeth expres agayn the wyl of me 
My servant, which that is my thral by right, 
Which fro myn hous was stole upon a nyght, 
Whil that she was ful yong; this wol I preeve 185 

By witnesse, lord, so that it nat yow greeve. 
She nys his doghter, nat what so he seye. 
Wherfore to yow, my lord the Juge, I preye 
Yeld me my thral, if that it be youre wille." 
Lo, this was al the sentence of his bille. 
Virginius gan upon the cherl biholde, 
But hastily, er he his tak tolde, 
And wolde have preeved it as sholde a knyght, 
And eek by witnessyng of many a wight, 
That it was fals, that seyde his adversarie, 195 

This cursed juge wolde no thyng tarie, 
Ne heere a word moore of Virginius, 
But yaf his juggement and seyde thus: 
"I deeme anon this cherl his servant have, 
Thou shalt no lenger in thyn hous hir save. 200 

Go, bryng hir forth, and put hir in our warde. 
The cherl shal have his thral, this I awarde." 
And whan this worthy knyght Virginius, 
Thurgh sentence of this justice Apius, 

Moste by force his deere doghter yeven 205 

172 diffynyue. 


Unto the j uge in lecherie to ly ven, 

He gooth hym boom, and sette him in his halle, 

And leet anon his deere doghter calle, 

And with a face deed as asshen colde, 

Upon hir humble face he gan biholde 210 

With fadres pitee stikynge thurgh his herte, 

Al wolde he from his purpos nat converte. 

"Doghter/' quod he,, "Virginia, by thy name, 
Ther been two weyes, outher deeth or shame 
That thou most suffre, alias, that I was bore ! 215 

For nevere thou deservedest wherfore 
To dyen with a swerd, or with a knyf. 
O deere doghter, ender of my lyf, 
Which I have fostred up with swich plesaunce, 
That thou were nevere out of my remembraunce. 220 

O doghter, which that art my laste wo, 
And in my lyf my laste joye also, 
O gemme of chastitee, in pacience 
Take thou thy deeth, for this is my sentence, 
For love and nat for hate, thou most be deed; 225 

My pitous hand moot smyten of thyn heed. 
Alias, that evere Apius the say ! 
Thus hath he falsly jugged the to day." 
And tolde hir al the cas, as ye bifore 

Han herd, nat nedeth for to telle it moore. 230 

"O mercy, deere fader," quod this mayde, 
And with that word she bothe hir armes layde 
About his nekke, as she was wont to do. 
The teeris bruste out of hir eyen two, 

And seyde, "Goode fader, shal I dye? 235 

Is ther no grace? is ther no remedye?" 
"No, certes, deere doghter myn," quod he. 
"Thanne yif me leyser, fader myn," quod she, 
"My deeth for to compleyne a litel space, 
For, pardee, Jepte yaf his doghter grace 240 

223 of o. 


For to compleyne, er he hir slow, alias ! 

And God it woot, no thyng was hir trespas 

But for she ran hir fader for to see 

To welcome hym with greet solempnitee." 

And with that word she fil aswowne anon; 245 

And after whan hir swownyng is agon 

She riseth up and to hir fader sayde, 

"Blissed be God that I shal dye a mayde; 

Yif me my deeth, er that I have a shame. 

Dooth with youre child youre wyl, a Goddes name/' 250 

And with that word she preyed hym ful ofte 

That with his swerd he wolde smyte softe, 

And with that word aswowne doun she fil. 

Hir fader with ful sorweful herte and wil 
Hir heed of smoot, and by the top it hente, 255 

And to the juge he gan it to presente 
As he sat yet in doom, in consistorie. 
And whan the juge it saugh, as seith the storie, 
He bad to take hym and anhange hym f aste. 
But right anon a thousand peple in thraste 26'0 

To save the kynght for routhe and for pitee ; 
For knowen was the false iniquitee. 
The peple anon hath suspect of this thyng, 
By manere of the cherles chalangyng, 

That it was by the assent of Apius 265 

They wisten wel that he was lecherus; 
For which unto this Apius they gon 
And caste hym in a prisoun right anon, 
Ther as he slow hymself, and Claudius 

That servant was unto this Apius, 270 

Was denied for to hange upon a tree, 
But that Virginius, of his pitee, 
So preyde for hym, that he was exiled; 
And elles, certes, he had been bigyled. 
The remenant were anhanged, moore and lesse, 275 

271 was and. 


That were consentant of this ciirsednesse. 
f^ Heere men may seen, how synne hath his merite. 
j Beth war, for no man woot whom God wol smyte 
/ In no degree, ne in which man ere wyse 
i The worm of conscience may agryse 280 

wikked lyf, though it so pryvee be 

That no man woot therof but God and he. 

For be he lewed man, or ellis lered, 

He noot how soone that he shal been afered. 

Therfore I rede yow this conseil take, 285 

Forsaketh synne, er synne yow forsake. 

Heere endeth the Phisiciens tale. 


The wordes of the Hoost to the Phisicien and the Pardoner. 

Oure Hooste gan to swere as he were wood; 

"Harrow!" quod he, "by nayles and by blood! 

This was a f als cherl and a f als j ustice ! 

As shameful deeth as herte may devyse 290 

Come to thise juges and hire advocatz ! 

Algate this sely mayde is slayn, alias ! 

Alias ! to deere boughte she beautee ! 

Wherfore I seye al day,, as men may see 

That yiftes of Fortune and of Nature 295 

Been cause of deeth to many a creature, 
j [Hir beautee was hir deeth, I dar wel sayn; 
(jUlas, so pitously as she was slayn!] 

Of bothe yiftes that I speke of now 

Men han ful ofte moore harm than prow. 300 

But trewely, myn owene maister deere, 

This is a pitous tale for to heere. 

But nathelees, passe over is no f ors ; 

I pray to God so save thy gentil cors, 

And eek thyne urynals and thy jurdanes, 305 

Thyn ypocras and eek thy Galianes 

And every boyste ful of thy letuarie, 

God blesse hem, and oure lady Seinte Marie! 

So moot I theen, thou art a propre man, 

And lyk a prelat, by Seint Ronyan. 310 

Seyde I nat wel ? I kan nat speke in terme ; 

But wel I woot thou doost myn herte to erme, 

That I almoost have caught a cardyacle. 

By corpus bones, but I have triacle, 

Or elles a draughte of moyste and corny ale, 315 

287 Hoost. 291 false juges. 297-8 not in MS. 300 for harm. 308 seint. 


\ Or but I heere anon a myrie tale, 

V_Myn herte is lost, for pitee of this mayde! 

Thou beelamy, thou Pardoner/' he sayde, 

"Telle us som myrthe or japes right anon." 

"It shal be doon," quod he, "by Seint Ronyon; 320 

But first/' quod he, "heere at this ale-stake, 

I wol bothe drynke and eten of a cake." 

And right anon the gentils gonne to crye, 

"Nay, lat hym telle us of no ribaudye ! 

{Telle us som moral thyng that we may leere 325 

Som wit, and thanne wol we gladly heere !" 
"I graunte, ywis," quod he, "but I moot thynke 
Upon som honeste thyng, while that I drynke." 


Heere folweth the Prologe of the Pardoners tale. 
Radix malorum est Cupiditas Ad Thimotheum 6. 

Lordynges quod he in chirches whan I preche, 
I peyne me to han an hauteyn speche, 330 

And rynge it out as round as gooth a belle, 
For I kan al by rote that I telle. 
My theme is alwey oon and evere was, 
"Radix malorum est Cupiditas." 

First I pronounce whennes that I come, 335 

And thanne my bulles shewe I, alle and some; 
Oure lige lordes seel on my patente, 
That shewe I first, my body to warente, 
That no man be so boold, ne preest ne clerk, 
Me to destourbe of Cristes hooly werk. 340 

And after that thanne telle I forth my tales, 
Bulles of popes and of cardynales, 
Of patriarkes and bishopes I shewe, 
And in Latyn I speke a wordes fewe, 

To saffron with my predicacioun, 345 

And for to stire hem to devocioun. 
Thanne shewe I forth my longe cristal stones, 
Ycrammed ful of cloutes and of bones; 
Relikes been they, as wenen they echoon. 
Thanne have I in latoun a sholder-boon 350 

Which that was of an hooly Jewes sheepe. 
"Goode men," I seye, "taak of my wordes keepe: 
If that this boon be wasshe in any welle, 
If cow, or calf, or sheep, or oxe s welle, 
That any worm hath ete, or worm ystonge, 
Taak water of that welle, and wassh his tonge, 
850 I om. 


And it is hool anon; and forthermoor, 

Of pokkes and of scabbe and every soor 

Shal every sheepe be hool that of this welle 

Drynketh a draughte; taak kepe eek what I telle, 360 

If that the goode man that the beestes oweth, 

Wol every wyke, er that the cok hym croweth, 

Fastynge, drinken of this welle a draughte, 

As thilke hooly Jew oure eldres taughte, 

Rise beestes and his stoor shal multiplie. 365 

And, sire, also it heeleth jalousie; 

For though a man be f alle in j alous rage, 

Lat maken with this water his potage, 

And nevere shal he moore his wyf mystriste, 

Though he the soothe of hir defaute wiste, 370 

Al had she taken preestes two or thre. 

Heere is a miteyn, eek, that ye may se: 

He that his hand wol putte in this mitayn, 

He shal have multipliyng of his grayn 

What he hath sowen, be it whete or otes, 375 

So that he offre pens, or elles grotes. 

Goode men and wommen, o thyng warne I yow, 

If any wight be in this chirche now, 

That hath doon synne horrible, that he 

Dar nat for shame of it yshryven be, 380 

Or any womman, be she yong or old, 

That hath ymaad hir housbonde cokewold, 

Swich folk shal have no power ne no grace 

To offren to my relikes in this place. 

And who so fyndeth hym out of swich fame, 385 

He wol come up and offre, on Goddes name, 

And I assoille him, by the auctoritee 

Which that by bulle ygraunted was to me/' 

By this gaude have I wonne, yeer by yeer, 
An hundred mark, sith I was pardoner. 390 

I stonde lyk a clerk in my pulpet, 
363 drinke. 382 ymaked. 386 He They. 387 him hem. 


And whan the lewed peple is doun yset, 
I preche so, as ye han herd bifoore, 
And telle an hundred false japes moore. 
Thanne peyne I me to strecche forth the nekke, 395 

And est and west upon the peple I bekke, 
As dooth a dowve sittynge on a berne. 
Myne handes and my tonge goon so yerne 
That it is joye to se my bisynesse. 

Of avarice and of swich cursednesse 400 

Is al my prechyng, for to make hem free 
To yeven hir pens ; and namely, unto me ! 
For myn entente is nat but for to wynne, 
And no thyng for correccioun of synne. 

I rekke nevere, whan that they been beryed, 405 

Though that hir soules goon a blakeberyed, 
For certes, many a predicacioun 
Comth ofte tyme of yvel entencioun. 
Som for plesance of folk, and flaterye, 

To been avaunced by ypocrisye, 410 

And som for veyne glorie, and som for hate. 
For whan I dar noon oother weyes debate, 
Thanne wol I stynge hym with my tonge smerte 
In prechyng, so that he shal nat asterte 

To been defamed falsly, if that he 415 

Hath trespased to my bretheren, or to me. 
For though I telle noght his propre name, 
Men shal wel knowe that it is the same 
By signes, and by othere circumstances. 
Thus quyte I folk that doon us displesances, 420 

Thus spitte I out my venym, under hewe 
Of hoolynesse, to semen hooly and trewe. 
But shortly, myn entente I wol devyse; 
I preche of no thyng but for coveityse. 
Therfore my theme is yet, and evere was, 425 

"Radix malorum est Cupiditas." 
405 that ora. 


Thus kan I preche agayn that same vice 

Which that I use, and that is avarice. 

But though myself be gilty in that synne, 

Yet kan I maken oother folk to twynne 430 

From avarice, and score to repente; 

But that is nat my principal entente. 

I preche no thyng but for coveitise; 

Of this mateere it oghte ynogh suffise. 

Thanne telle I hem ensamples many oon 435 

Of olde stories longe tyme agoon, 

For lewed peple loven tales olde; 

Swiche thynges kan they wel reporte and holde. 

What? trowe ye, the whiles I may preche, 

And wynne gold and silver for I teche, 440 

That I wol lyve in poverte wilfully ? 

Nay, nay, I thoghte it nevere, trewely. 

For I wol preche and begge in sondry landes, 

I wol nat do no labour with myne handes, 

Ne make baskettes, and lyve therby, 445 

By cause I wol nat beggen ydelly. 

I wol noon of the apostles countrefete, 

I wol have moneie, wolle, chese, and whete, 

Al were it yeven of the povereste page, 

Or of the povereste wydwe in a village, 450 

Al sholde hir children sterve for famyne. 

Nay, I wol drynke licour of the vyne, 

And have a joly wenche in every toun. 

But herkneth, lordynges, in conclusioun: 

Your likyng is, that I shal telle a tale. 455 

Now have I dronke a draughte of corny ale, 

By God, I hope I shal yow telle a thyng 

That shal by resoun been at youre likyng. 

For though myself be a ful vicious man, 

A moral tale yet I yow telle kan, 460 

Which I am wont to preche, for to wynne. 

Now hoold youre pees, my tale I wol bigynne. 


Heere bigynneth the Pardoners tale. 

In Flaundres whilom was a compaignye 
Of yonge folk, that haunteden folye, 

As riot, hasard, stywes, and tavernes, 465 

Wher as with harpes, lutes, and gyternes 
They daunce and pleyen at dees, bothe day and nyght, 
And eten also and drynken over hir myght, 
Thurgh which they doon the devel sacrifise 
Withinne that develes temple in cursed wise, 470 

By superfluytee abhomynable. 
Hir othes been so grete and so dampnable 
That it is grisly for to heere hem swere. 
Oure blissed lordes body they to-tere, 

Hem thoughte that Jewes rente hym noght ynough, 475 
And ech of hem at otheres synne lough. 
And right anon thanne comen tombesteres, 
Fetys and smale, and yonge frutesteres, 
Syngeres with harpes, baudes, wafereres, 
Whiche been the verray develes officeres 480 

To kyndle and bio we the fyr of lechery e, 
That is annexed unto glotonye. 
The hooly writ take I to my witnesse, 
That luxurie is in wyn and dronkenesse. 

Lo, how that dronken Looth unkyndely 
Lay by hise doghtres two unwityngly; 
So dronke he was, he nyste what he wroghte. 
Herodes, whoso wel the stories soghte, 
Whan he of wyn was repleet at his feeste, 
Right at his owene table he yaf his heeste 
To sleen the Baptist John, ful giltelees. 


Senec seith a good word, doutelees; 

He seith, he kan no difference fynde 

Bitwix a man that is out of his mynde, 

And a man which that is dronkelewe, 495 

But that woodnesse fallen in a shrewe 

Persevereth lenger than dooth dronkenesse. 

O glotonye, ful of cursednesse ! 

O cause first of oure confusioun ! 

O original of oure dampnacioun 500 

Til Crist hadde boght us with his blood agayn ! 

Lo, how deere, shortly for to sayn, 

Aboght was thilke cursed vileynye ! 

Corrupt was al this world for glotonye! 

Adam oure fader, and his wyf also, 505 

Fro Paradys to labour and to wo 

Were dryven for that vice, it is no drede; 

For whil that Adam fasted, as I rede, 

He was in Paradys, and whan that he 

Eet of the fruyt deffended on the tree, 510 

Anon he was out-cast to wo and peyne. 

O glotonye, on thee wel oghte us pleyne ! 

O, wiste a man how manye maladyes 

Folwen of excesse and of glotonyes, 

He wolde been the moore mesurable 515 

Of his diete, sittynge at his table. 

Alias, the shorte throte, the tendre mouth 

Maketh that est and west and north and south 

In erthe, in eir, in water, man to swynke 

To gete a glotoun deyntee mete and drynke. 520 

Of this matiere, O Paul ! wel kanstow trete, 

Mete unto wombe and wombe eek unto mete 

Shal God destroyen bothe, as Paulus seith. 

Alias, a foul thyng is it, by my f eith ! 

To seye this word, and fouler is the dede 525 

Whan man so drynketh of the white and rede, 

That of his throte he maketh his pryvee 


Thurgh thilke cursed superfluitee. 

The Apostel wepyng seith ful pitously, 

"Ther walken manye of whiche yow toold have I, 530 

I seye it now wepyng with pitous voys, 

That they been enemys of Cristes croys, 

Of whiche the ende is deeth, wombe is hir god." 

O wombe ! O bely ! O stynkyng cod ! 

Fulfilled of donge and of corrupcioun, 535 

At either ende of thee foul is the soun; 

How greet labour and cost is thee to fynde, 

Thise cookes, how they stampe, and streyne, and grynde, 

And turnen substaunce into accident, 

To fulfillen al thy likerous talent ! 540 

Out of the harde bones knokke they 

The mary,, for they caste noght awey, 

That may go thurgh the golet softe and swoote; 

Of spicerie, of leef, and bark, and roote, 

Shal been his sauce ymaked by delit, 545 

To make hym yet a newer appetit. 

But certes, he that haunteth swiche delices 

Is deed, whil that he lyveth in tho vices. 

A lecherous thyng is wyn, and dronkenesse 
Is ful of stryvyng and of wrecchednesse. 550 

O dronke man, disfigured is thy face ! 
Sour is thy breeth, foul artow to embrace, 
And thurgh thy dronke nose semeth the soun, 
As though thou seydest ay, "Sampsoun ! Sampsoun !" 
And yet, God woot, Sampsoun drank nevere no wyn! 555 
Thou f allest, as it were a styked swyn ; 
Thy tonge is lost, and al thyn honeste cure 
For dronkenesse is verray sepulture 
Of mannes wit and his discrecioun, 

In whom that drynke hath dominacioun. 560 

He kan no conseil kepe, it is no drede; 
Now kepe yow fro the white and fro the rede, 

582 That they Ther. 


And namely, fro the white wyn of Lepe, 

That is to selle in Fysshstrete, or in Chepe. 

This wyn of Spaigne crepeth subtilly 565 

In othere wynes, growynge faste by, 

Of which ther ryseth swich fumositee, 

That whan a man hath dronken draughtes thre 

And weneth that he be at hoom in Chepe, 

He is in Spaigne, right at the toune of Lepe, 570 

Nat at the Rochele, ne at Burdeux toun ; 

And thanne wol he seye "Sampsoun, Sampsoun !" 

But herkneth, lordes, o word I yow preye, 

That alle the sovereyn actes^ dar I seye, 

Of victories in the Olde Testament, 575 

Thurgh verray God that is omnipotent 

Were doon in abstinence and in preyere. 

Looketh the Bible, and ther ye may it leere. 

Looke, Attilla, the grete conquerour, 

Deyde in his sleepe, with shame and dishonour, 580 

Bledynge ay at his nose in dronkenesse. 

A capitayn sholde lyve in sobrenesse; 

And over al this avyseth yow right wel, 

What was comaunded unto Lamwel, 

Nat Samuel, but Lamwel, seye I; 585 

Redeth the Bible and fynde it expresly, 

Of wyn yevyng to hem that han justise. 

Namoore of this, for it may wel suffise. 

And now that I have spoken of glotonye, 
Now wol I yow deffenden hasardrye. 590 

Hasard is verray mooder of lesynges, 
And of deceite and cursed forswerynges, 
Blasphemyng of Crist, manslaughtre and wast also, 
Of catel and of tyme, and forthermo 

It is repreeve and contrarie of honour 595 

For to ben holde a commune hasardour. 
And ever the hyer he is of estaat, 

589 that om. 


The moore is he holden desolaat ; 

If that a prynce useth hasardrye, 

In alle governaunce and policye 600 

He is as by commune opinioun 

Yholde the lasse in reputacioun. 

Stilboun, that was a wys embassadour, 

Was sent to Corynthe in ful greet honour, 

Fro Lacidomye to maken hire alliaunce. 605 

And whan he cam hym happede par chaunce, 

That alle the gretteste that were of that lond 

Pleyynge atte hasard he hem fond. 

For which, as soone as it myghte be, 

He stal hym hoom agayn to his contree, 610 

And seyde, "Ther wol I nat lese my name, 

Ne I wol nat take on me so greet defame. 

Yow for to allie unto none hasardours. 

Sendeth othere wise embassadours, 

For by my trouthe me were levere dye 615 

Than I yow sholde to hasardours allye. 

For ye that been so glorious in honours 

Shul nat allyen yow with hasardours, 

As by my wyl, ne as by my tretee," 

This wise philosophre, thus seyde hee. 620 

Looke eek, that to the kyng Demetrius 

The kyng of Parthes, as the book seith us, 

Sente him a paire of dees of gold, in scorn, 

For he hadde used hasard therbiforn, 

For which he heeld his glorie or his renoun 625 

At no value or reputacioun. 

Lordes may fynden oother maner pley 

Honeste ynough, to dryve the day awey. 

Now wol I speke of othes false and grete 
A word or two, as olde bookes trete. 630 

Gret sweryng is a thyng abhominable, 
And fals sweryng is yet moore reprevable. 
606 happed. 621 to om. 



The heighe God forbad sweryng at al, 

Witnesse on Mathew; but in special 

Of sweryng seith the hooly Jeremy e, 635 

"Thou shalt seye sooth thyne othes, and nat lye, 

And swere in doom, and eek in rightwisnesse," 

But ydel sweryng is a cursednesse. 

Bihoold and se, that in the firste table 

Of heighe Goddes heestes honurable 640 

How that the seconde heeste of hym is this: 

Take nat my name in ydel or amys. 

Lo, rather he forbedeth swich sweryng 

Than homycide, or any cursed thyng! 

I seye, that as by ordre thus it stondeth, 645 

This knowen that hise heestes understondeth 

How that the seconde heeste of God is that. 

And forther-over I wol thee telle al plat, 

That vengeance shal nat parten from his hous 

That of hise othes is to outrageous 650 

"By Goddes precious herte and by his nayles, 

And by the blood of Crist that is in Hayles, 

Sevene is my chaunce and thyn is cynk and treye. 

By Goddes armes, if thou falsly pleye, 

This dagger shal thurghout thyn herte go !" 655 

This fruyt cometh of the bicched bones two, 

Forsweryng, ire, falsnesse, homycide! 

Now for the love of Crist, that for us dyde, 

Lete youre othes bothe grete and smale. 

But, sires, now wol I telle forth my tale. 660 

Thise riotoures thre, of whiche I telle, 
Longe erst er prime rong of any belle, 
Were set hem in a taverne for to drynke. 
And as they sat, they herde a belle clynke 
Biforn a cors, was caried to his grave. 665 

That oon of hem gan callen to his knave, 
"Go bet," quod he, "and axe redily 

661 riotours. 03 -for om. 


What cors is this, that passeth heer forby, 

And looke, that thou reporte his name weel." 

"Sir/' quod this boy, "it nedeth neveradeel; 670 

It was me toold, er ye cam heer two houres. 

He was, pardee, an old felawe of youres, 

And sodeynly he was yslayn to-nyght, 

Fordronke, as he sat on his bench upright. 

Ther cam a privee theef men clepeth Deeth, 675 

That in this contree al the peple sleeth, 

And with his spere he smoot his herte atwo, 

And wente his wey withouten wordes mo. 

He hath a thousand slayn this pestilence, 

And maister, er ye come in his presence, 680 

Me thynketh that it were necessarie 

For to be war of swich an adversarie. 

Beth redy for to meete hym everemoore, 

Thus taughte me my dame, I sey namoore." 

"By Seinte Marie," seyde this taverner, 685 

"The child seith sooth, for he hath slayn this yeer 

Henne over a mile, withinne a greet village 

Bothe man and womman, child, and hyne, and page. 

I trowe his habitacioun be there. 

To been avysed, greet wysdom it were, 690 

Er that he dide a man a dishonour." 

"Ye, Goddes armes," quod this riotour, 

"Is it swich peril with hym for to meete ? 

I shal hym seke, by wey and eek by strete, 

I make avow to Goddes digne bones. 695 

Herkneth, felawes, we thre been al ones ; 

Lat ech of us holde up his hand til oother, 

And ech of us bicomen otheres brother, 

And we wol sleen this false traytour Deeth. 

He shal be slayn, which that so manye sleeth, 700 

By Goddes dignitee, er it be nyght." 

Togidres han thise thre hir trouthes plight, 

To lyve and dyen, ech of hem for oother, 


As though he were his owene ybore brother ; 

And up they stirte al dronken in this rage, 705 

And forth they goon towardes that village, 

Of which the taverner hadde spoke biforn. 

And many a grisly ooth thanne han they sworn, 

And Cristes blessed body they to-rente, 

'Deeth shal be deed, if that they may hym hente.' 710 

Whan they han goon nat fully half a mile, 
Right as they wolde han troden over a stile, 
An oold man and a povre with hem mette. 
This olde man ful mekely hem grette, 

And seyde thus, "Now, lordes, God yow see." 715 

The proudeste of thise riotoures three 
Answerde agayn, "What, carl, with sory grace, 
Why artow al f orwrapped save thy face ? 
Why lyvestow so longe in so greet age?" 
This olde man gan looke in his visage, 720 

And seyde thus, "For I ne kan nat fynde 
A man, though that I walked in to Ynde, 
Neither in citee nor in no village, 
That wolde chaunge his youthe for myn age. 
And therfore moot I han myn age stille 725 

As longe tyme as it is Goddes wille. 
Ne deeth, alias, ne wol nat han my lyf ! 
Thus walke I lyk a restelees kaityf, 
And on the ground, which is my moodres gate, 
I knokke with my staf bothe erly and late, 730 

And seye, 'leeve mooder, leet me in ! 
Lo, how I vanysshe, flessh and blood and skyn ! 
Alias, whan shul my bones been at reste ? 
Mooder, with yow wolde I chaunge my cheste, 
That in my chambre longe tyme hath be, 735 

Ye, for an heyre-clowt to wrappe me/ 
But yet to me she wol nat do that grace ; 
For which ful pale and welked is my face. 

704 yborn. 705 al and. 716 riotours. 


But, sires, to yow it is no curteisye 

To speken to an old man vileynye, 740 

But he trespasse in word, or elles in dede. 

In hooly writ ye may yourself wel rede, 

'Agayns an oold man, hoor upon his heed, 

Ye sholde arise ;' wherfore I yeve yow reed, 

Ne dooth unto an oold man noon harm now, 745 

Namoore than that ye wolde men did to yow 

In age, if that ye so longe abyde, 

And God be with yow where ye go or ryde. 

I moote go thider, as I have to go." 

"Nay, olde cherl, by God, thou shalt nat so," 750 

Seyde this oother hasardour anon. 

"Thou partest nat so lightly, by Seint John. 

Thou spak right now of thilke tray tour Deeth, 

That in this contree alle oure f reendes sleeth. 

Have heer my trouthe, as thou art his espye, 755 

Telle where he is, or thou shalt it abye, 

By God and by the hooly sacrament, 

For soothly thou art oon of his assent 

To sleen us yonge folk, thou false theef !" 

"Now, sires," quod he, "if that ye be so leef 760 

To fynde Deeth, turne up this croked wey, 

For in that grove I lafte hym, by my fey, 

Under a tree, and there he wole abyde. 

Noght for your boost he wole him nothyng hyde, 

Se ye that ook ? right ther ye shal hym fynde, 765 

God save yow that boghte agayn mankynde, 

And yow amende." Thus seyde this olde man; 

And everich of thise riotoures ran 

Til he cam to that tree, and ther they founde 

Of floryns fyne of gold ycoyned rounde 770 

Wel ny an eighte busshels, as hem thoughte. 

No lenger thanne after Deeth they soughte, 

But ech of hem so glad was of that sighte, 

768 riotours. 


For that the floryns been so f aire and brighte, 
That doun they sette hem by this precious hoord. 775 

The worste of hem, he spak the firste word, 
"Bretheren," quod he, "taak kepe what I seye ; 
My wit is greet, though that I bourde and pleye. 
This tresor hath Fortune unto us yeven, 
In myrthe and joliftee cure lyf to lyven. 780 

And lightly as it comth, so wol we spende. 
Ey, Goddes precious dignitee, who wende 
Today that we sholde han so fair a grace ? 
But myghte this gold be caried fro this place 
Hoom to myn hous or elles unto youres, 785 

(For wel ye woot that al this gold is oures) 
Thanne were we in heigh felicitee. 
But trewely, by daye it may nat bee; 
Men wolde seyn that we were theves stronge, 
And for oure owene tresor doon us honge. 790 

This tresor moste ycaried be by nyghte, 
As wisely and as slyly as it myghte. 
Wherfore I rede that cut among us alle 
Be drawe, and lat se wher the cut wol falle, 
And he that hath the cut, with herte blithe 795 

Shal renne to the towne, and that ful swithe, 
And brynge us breed and wyn, ful prively; 
And two of us shul kepen subtilly 
This tresor wel, and if he wol nat tarie, 
Whan it is nyght, we wol this tresor carie, 800 

By oon assent, where as us thynketh best." 
That oon of hem the cut broghte in his fest, 
And bad hym drawe, and looke where it wol falle ; 
And it fil on the yongeste of hem alle, 

And forth toward the toun he wente anon. 805 

And al so soone, as that he was agon, 
That oon of hem spak thus unto that oother, 
"Thow knowest wel thou art my sworen brother, 
796 the om. 806 gon. 807 of hem om. 808 sworn. 


Thy profit wol I telle thee anon. 

Thou woost wel, that oure felawe is agon, 810 

And heere is gold, and that ful greet plentee, 

That shal departed been among us thre. 

But nathelees, if I kan shape it so 

That it departed were among us two,, 

Hadde I nat doon a freendes torn to thee?" 815 

That oother answerde, "I noot hou that may be; 

He woot how that the gold is with us tweye; 

What shal we doon ? what shal we to hym seye ?" 

"Shal it be conseil?" seyde the firste shrewe, 

"And I shal tellen, in a wordes fewe, 820 

What we shal doon, and bryngen it wel aboute." 

"I graunte," quod that oother, "out of doute, 

That by my trouthe I shal thee nat biwreye." 

"Now," quod the firste, "thou woost wel we be tweye, 

And two of us shul strenger be than oon; 825 

Looke whan that he is set, that right anoon 

Arys, as though thou woldest with hym pleye, 

And I shal ryve hym thurgh the sydes tweye, 

WTiil that thou strogelest with hym as in game. 

And with thy daggere looke thou do the same, 830 

And thanne shal al this gold departed be, 

My deere freend, bitwixen me and thee. 

Thanne may we bothe oure lustes all fulfille, 

And pleye at dees right at oure owene wille." 

And thus acorded been thise shrewes tweye 835 

To sleen the thridde, as ye han herd me seye. 

This yongeste, which that wente unto the toun, 
Ful ofte in herte he rolleth up and doun 
The beautee of thise floryns newe and brighte. 
"O lord," quod he, "if so were that I myghte 840 

Have al this tresor to my-self allone, 
Ther is no man that lyveth under the trone 
Of God} that sholde lyve so murye as I." 
And atte laste the feend, oure enemy, 


Putte in his thought that he sholde poyson beye, 845 

With which he myghte sleen hise felawes tweye. 
For why, the feend foond hym in swich lyvynge, 
That he hadde leve hem to sorwe brynge ; 
For this was outrely his fulle entente, 

To sleen hem bothe, and nevere to repente. 850 

And forth he gooth, no lenger wolde he tarie, 
Into the toun unto a pothecarie 
And preyde hym that he hym wolde selle 
Som poysoun, that he myghte hise rattes quelle, 
And eek ther was a polcat in his hawe, 855 

That, as he seyde, hise capouns hadde yslawe; 
And fayn he wolde wreke hym, if he myghte, 
On vermyn that destroyed hym by nyghte. 
The pothecarie answerde, "and thou shalt have 
A thyng, that al so God my soule save, 860 

In al this world ther is no creature 
That eten or dronken hath of this confiture 
Noght but the montance of a corn of whete, 
That he ne shal his lif anon f orlete ; 

Ye, sterve he shal, and that in lasse while 865 

Than thou wolt goon a paas nat but a mile, 
This poysoun is so strong and violent." 
This cursed man hath in his hond yhent 
This poysoun in a box, and sith he ran 

Into the nexte strete unto a man 870 

And borwed hym of large botels thre ; 
And in the two his poyson poured he, 
The thridde he kepte clene for his owene drynke, 
For al the nyght he shoop hym for to swynke 
In cariynge of the gold out of that place. 875 

And whan this riotour, with sory grace, 
Hadde filled with wyn his grete botels thre, 
To hise felawes agayn repaireth he. 
What nedeth it to sermone of it moore ? 

871 of om. 


For right as they hadde cast his deeth bifoore 880 

Right so they han him slayn, and that anon; 

And whan that this was doon, thus spak that oon, 

"Now lat us sitte and drynke, and make us merie, 

And afterward we wol his body berie." 

And with that word it happed hym, par cas, 885 

To take the botel ther the poysoun was, 

And drank, and yaf his felawe drynke also, 

For which anon they storven bothe two. 

But certes, I suppose that Avycen 

Wroot nevere in no canoun, ne in no fen, 890 

Mo wonder signes of empoisonyng 

Than hadde thise wrecches two, er hir endyng. 

Thus ended been thise homycides two, 

And eek the false empoysoner also. 

O cursed synne ful of cursednesse ! 895 

O traytours homycide ! O wikkednesse ! 

glotonye, luxurie, and hasardrye ! 
Thou blasphemour of Crist, with vileynye, 
And othes grete, of usage and of pride, 

Alias, mankynde ! how may it bitide 900 

That to thy Creatour which that the wroghte, 

And with His precious herte-blood thee boghte, 

Thou art so fals and so unkynde, alias ! 

Now, goode men, God foryeve yow youre trespas, 

And ware yow fro the synne of avarice ; 905 

Myn hooly pardoun may yow alle warice, 

So that ye offre nobles or sterlynges, 

Or elles silver broches, spoones, rynges; 

Boweth youre heed under this hooly bulle, 

Com up, ye wyves, offreth of youre wolle ; 910 

Youre names I entre heer in my rolle anon, 

Into the blisse of hevene shul ye gon. 

1 yow assoille by myn heigh power, 

Yow that wol offre, as clene and eek as deer 

880 so as. 895 ful of of alle. 


As ye were born and lo, sires, thus I preche; 915 

And Jesu Crist, that is oure soules leche, 
So graunte yow his pardoun to receyve, 
For that is best, I wol yow nat deceyve. 
But sires, o word forgat I in my tale, 

I have relikes and pardoun in my male 920 

As faire as any man in Engelond, 
Whiche were me yeven by the popes hond. 
If any of yow wole of devocioun 
Offren and han myn absolucioun, 

Com forth anon, and kneleth heere adoun, 925 

And mekely receyveth my pardoun, 
Or elles taketh pardoun as ye wende, 
Al newe and fressh at every miles ende, 
So that ye offren alwey newe and newe 

Nobles or pens, whiche that be goode and trewe. 930 

It is an honour to everich that is heer, 
That ye mowe have a suffisant pardoneer 
Tassoille yow in contree as ye ryde, 
For aventures whiche that may bityde. 

Paraventure ther may fallen oon or two 935 

Doun of his hors, and breke his nekke atwo. 
Look, which a seuretee is it to yow alle 
That I am in youre felaweship yfalle, 
That may assoille yow, bothe moore and lasse, 
Whan that the soule shal fro the body passe. 940 

I rede that oure Hoost heere shal bigynne, 
For he is moost envoluped in synne. 
Com forth, sire Hoost, and offre first anon, 
And thou shalt kisse my relikes everychon, 
Ye, for a grote, unbokele anon thy purs. 945 

"Nay, nay/' quod he, "thanne have I Cristes curs !" 
"Lat be," quod he, "it shal nat be, so theech, 
Thou woldest make me kisse thyn olde breech, 
And swere it were a relyk of a seint, 
Though it were with thy fundement depeint. 950 


But by the croys which that seint Eleyne fond, 

I wolde I hadde thy coillons in myn hond 

In stide of relikes or of seintuarie. 

Lat kutte hem of., I wol thee helpe hem carie, 

They shul be shryned in an hogges toord." 955 

This Pardoner answerde nat a word; 

So wrooth he was, no word ne wolde he seye. 

"Now," quod oure Hoost, "I wol no lenger pleye 

With thee, ne with noon oother angry man." 

But right anon the worthy knyght bigan, 960 

Whan that he saugh that al the peple lough, 

"Namoore of this, for it is right ynough. 

Sir Pardoner, be glad and myrie of cheere; 

And ye, sir Hoost, that been to me so deere, 

I prey yow, that ye kisse the pardoner; 965 

And Pardoner, I prey thee, drawe thee neer, 

And, as we diden, lat us laughe and pleye." 

Anon they kiste, and ryden forth hir weye. 

954 thee helpe with thee. 

Heere is ended the Pardoners tale. 



The Prologe of the Wyves tale of Bathe. 

Experience, though noon auctoritee 
Were in this world, were right ynogh to me 
To speke of wo that is in mariage; 
For, lordynges, sith I twelf yeer was of age, 
Thonked be God, that is eterne on lyve, 5 

Housbondes at chirche-dore I have had fyve 
For I so ofte have ywedded bee 
And alle were worthy men in hir degree. 
But me was toold, certeyn, nat longe agoon is, 
That sith that Crist ne wente nevere but onis 10 

To weddyng in the Cane of Galilee, 
That by the same ensample, taughte he me, 
That I ne sholde wedded be but ones. 
Herkne eek, lo, which a sharpe word for the nones, 
Biside a welle Jesus, God and Man, 15 

Spak in repreeve of the Samaritan. 
"Thou hast yhad fyve housbondes," quod he, 
"And thilke man the which that hath now thee 
Is noght thyn housbonde ;" thus seyde he, certeyn. 
What that he mente ther by, I kan nat seyn ; 20 

But that I axe, why that the fifthe man 
Was noon housbonde to the Samaritan? 
How manye myghte she have in mariage? 
Yet herde I nevere tellen in myn age 

Upon this nombre diffinicioun. 25 

Men may devyne, and glosen up and doun, 

5 Ythonked. 12 That om.; taughte he though te. 14 lo om. 18 that. 


But wel I woot expres withoute lye, 

God bad us for to wexe and multiplye; 

That gentil text kan I wel understonde. 

Eek wel I woot, he seyde, myn housbonde 30 

Sholde lete fader and mooder, and take me; 

But of no nombre mencioun made he, 

Of bigamye, or of octogamye; 

Why sholde men speke of it vileynye ? 

Lo, heere the wise kyng, daun Salomon; 35 

I trowe he hadde wyves mo than oon 
As, wolde God, it leveful were to me 
To be refresshed half so ofte as he 
Which yif te of God hadde he, for alle hise wyvys ? 
No man hath swich that in this world alyve is. 40 

God woot, this noble kyng, as to my wit, 
The firste nyght had many a myrie fit 
With ech of hem, so wel was hym on lyve ! 
Blessed be God, that I have wedded fyve ; 
Welcome the sixte, whan that evere he shal. 45 

For sothe I wol nat kepe me chaast in al ; 
Whan myn housbonde is fro the world ygon 
Som cristen man shal wedde me anon. 
For thanne thapostle seith that I am free, 
To wedde a Goddes half where it liketh me. 50 

He seith, that to be wedded is no synne, 
Bet is to be wedded than to brynne. 
What rekketh me, thogh folk seye vileynye 
Of shrewed Lameth and of bigamye? 

I woot wel Abraham was an hooly man, 55 

And Jacob eek, as ferforth as I kan, 
And ech of hem hadde wyves mo than two, 
And many another holy man also. 
Whanne saugh ye evere in any manere age 
That hye God defended mariage 60 

29 wel om. 37 were leveful unto. 44 Yblessed. 49 that om. 51 that om. 
58 holy om. 59 any om. 


By expres word? *I pray you, telleth me, 

Or where comanded he virginitee ? 

I woot as wel as ye it is no drede, 

Thapostel, whan he speketh of maydenhede; 

He seyde, that precept therof hadde he noon. 65 

Men may conseille a womman to been oon, 

But conseillyng is no comandement; 

He putte it in oure owene juggement. 

For hadde God comanded maydenhede, 

Thanne hadde he dampned weddyng with the dede ; 70 

And certein, if ther were no seed ysowe, 

Virginitee, wherof thanne sholde it growe? 

Poul dorste nat comanden, atte leeste, 

A thyng of which his maister yaf noon heeste. 

The dart is set up of virginitee; 75 

Cacche who so may, who renneth best lat see. 

But this word is nat taken of every wight, 

But ther as God lust gyve it of his myght. 

I woot wel, the apostel was a mayde ; 

But nathelees, thogh that he wroot and sayde 80 

He wolde that every wight were swich as he, 

Al nys but conseil to virginitee ; 

And for to been a wyf, he yaf me leve 

Of indulgence, so it is no repreve 

To wedde me, if that my make dye, 85 

Withouten excepcioun of bigamye. 

"Al were it good no womman for to touche," 

He mente, as in his bed or in his couche ; 

For peril is bothe f yr and tow tassemble ; 

Ye knowe what this ensample may resemble. 90 

This is al and som, he heeld virginitee 

Moore parfit than weddyng in freletee. 

Freletee clepe I, but if that he and she 

Wolde leden al hir lyf in chastitee. 

64 Whan thapostel. 67 No nat. 73 Poul ne. 85 that om. 91 he heeld that 
92 parfit proflteth. 94 lede. 


I graunte it wel, I have noon envie, 95 

Thogh maydenhede preferre bigamye; 
Hem liketh to be clene, body and goost. 
Of myn estaat I nyl nat make no boost, 
For wel ye knowe, a lord in his houshold, 
He nath nat every vessel al of gold; 100 

Somme been of tree, and doon hir lord servyse. 
God clepeth folk to hym in sondry wyse, 
And everich hath of God a propre yifte, 
Som this, som that, as hym liketh shifte. 
Virginitee is greet perfeccioun, 105 

And continence eek with devocioun. 
But Crist, that of perfeccioun is welle, 
Bad nat every wight he sholde go selle 
Al that he hadde, and gyve it to the poore, 
And in swich wise folwe hym and his foore. 110 

He spak to hem that wolde lyve parfitly, 
And lordynges, by youre leve, that am nat I. 
I wol bistowe the flour of myn age 
In the actes and in fruyt of mariage. 
An housbonde I wol have, I nyl nat lette, 
Which shal be bothe my dettour and my thral, 155 

And have his tribulacioun withal 
Upon his flessh whil that I am his wyf. 
I have the power durynge al my lyf 
Upon his propre body, and noght he. 

Right thus the Apostel tolde it unto me, 160 

And bad oure housbondes for to love us weel. 
Al this sentence me liketh every deel, 
Up stirte the Pardoner, and that anon, 
"Now, dame," quod he, "by God and by Seint John, 
Ye been a noble prechour in this cas. 165 

I was aboute to wedde a wyf, alias ! 
What sholde I bye it on my flessh so deere ? 
Yet hadde I levere wedde no wyf to-yeere !" 

108 he om. 157 that om. 


"Abyde," quod she, "my tale is nat bigonne. 

Nay, thou shall drynken of another tonne, 170 

Er that I go, shal savoure wors than ale. 

And whan that I have toold thee forth my tale 

Of tribulacioun in mariage, 

Of which I am expert in al myn age, 

(This to seyn, myself have been the whippe), 175 

Than maystow chese wheither thou wolt sippe 

Of thilke tonne that I shal abroche. 

Be war of it, er thou to ny approche, 

For I shal telle ensamples mo than ten. 

Whoso that nyl be war by othere men, 180 

By hym shul othere men corrected be. 

The same wordes writeth Ptholomee; 

Rede it in his Almageste, and take it there." 

"Dame, I wolde praye yow, if youre wyl it were," 

Seyde this Pardoner, "as ye bigan, 185 

Telle forth youre tale, spareth for no man, 

And teche us yonge men of your praktike." 

"Gladly," quod she, "sith it may yow like. 

But yet I praye to al this compaignye, 

If that I speke after my fantasye, 190 

As taketh not agrief of that I seye, 

For myn entente nis but for to pleye." 

Now sire, now wol I telle forth my tale, 
As evere moote I drynken wyn or ale, 

I shal seye sooth, tho housbondes that I hadde, 195 

As thre of hem were goode, and two were badde. 
The thre men were goode, and riche, and olde ; 
Unnethe myghte they the statut holde 
In which that they were bounden unto me 
Ye woot wel what I meene of this, pardee ! 200 

As help me God, I laughe whan I thynke 
How pitously anyght I made hem swynke. 

172 thee om. 173 that is in. 177 Of that. 180 nyl wol nat. 182 Protholomee 
184 yow om. 188 quod she sires. 191 of om. 192 nis is. 195 of tho. 


And by my fey, I tolde of it no stoor, 

They had me yeven hir gold and hir tresoor ; 

Me neded nat do lenger diligence 205 

To wynne hir love, or doon hem reverence, 

They loved me so wel, by God above, 

That I ne tolde no deyntee of hir love. 

A wys womman wol sette hire evere in oon 

To gete hire love, ther as she hath noon. 210 

But sith I hadde hem hoolly in myn hond, 

And sith they hadde me yeven all hir lond, 

What sholde I taken heede hem for to plese, 

But it were for my profit and myn ese? 

I sette hem so a-werke, by my fey, 215 

That many a nyght they songen weilawey. 

The bacoun was nat fet for hem, I trowe, 

That som men han in Essex at Dunmowe. 

I governed hem so wel after my lawe, 

That ech of hem ful blisful was, and fawe 220 

To brynge me gaye thynges fro the fayre. 

They were ful glad whan I spak to hem faire, 

For God it woot, I chidde hem spitously. 

Now herkneth hou I baar me proprely, 

Ye wise wyves, that kan understonde. 225 

Thus shul ye speke and bere hem wrong on honde ; 

For half so boldely kan ther no man 

Swere and lyen, as a womman kan. 

I sey nat this by wyves that been wyse, 

But if it be whan they hem mysavyse. 230 

A wys wyf, if that she kan hir good, 

Shal beren hym on hond the cow is wood, 

And take witnesse of hir owene mayde, 

Of hir assent; but herkneth how I sayde. 

"Sir olde kaynard, is this thyn array? 235 

Why is my neighebores wyf so gay? 

215 werk. 220 hem was. 226 beren; wrong om. 228 kan a womman. 
232 bere. 


She is honoured overal ther she gooth; 

I sitte at hoom, I have no thrifty clooth. 

What dostow at my neighebores hous ? 

Is she so fair ? artow so amorous ? 240 

What rowne ye with oure mayde? benedicite, 

Sir olde lecchour, lat thy japes be! 

And if I have a gossib or a freend 

Withouten gilt, thou chidest as a f eend 

If that I walke or pleye unto his hous. 245 

Thou comest hoom as dronken as a mous 

And prechest on thy bench, with yvel preef ! 

Thou seist to me, it is a greet meschief 

To wedde a povre womman, for costage, 

And if she be riche and of heigh parage, 250 

Thanne seistow it is a tormentrie 

To soffren hir pride and hir malencolie. 

And if she be fair, thou verray knave, 

Thou seyst that every holour wol hir have ; 

She may no while in chastitee abyde 255 

That is assailled upon ech a syde. 

Thou seyst, som folk desiren us for richesse, 

Somme for oure shape, and somme for oure fairnesse, 

And som for she kan outher synge or daunce, 

And som for gentillesse and daliaunce, 260 

Som for hir handes and hir armes smale; 

Thus goth al to the devel by thy tale. 

Thou seyst, men may nat kepe a castel wal, 

It may so longe assailled been overal. 

And if that she be foul, thou seist that she 265 

Coveiteth every man that she may se; 

For as a spaynel she wol on hym lepe 

Til that she fynde som man hir to chepe; 

Ne noon so grey goos gooth ther in the lake 

As, seistow, wol been withoute make ; 270 

257 that som. 258 and om. 259 kan synge and. 260 som for daliaunce 
269 ther om. 


And seyst, it is an hard thyng for to welde 
A thyng that no man wole, his thankes, helde. 
Thus seistow, lorel, whan thow goost to bedde, 
And that no wys man nedeth for to wedde, 
Ne no man that entendeth unto hevene 275 

With wilde thonderdynt and firy levene 
Moote thy welked nekke be to-broke ! 
Thow seyst that droppyng houses, and eek smoke, 
And chidyng wyves maken men to flee 

Out of hir owene hous, a benedicitee ! 280 

What eyleth swich an old man for to chide? 
Thow seyst, we wyves wol oure vices hide 
Til we be fast, and thanne we wol hem shewe. 
Wei may that be a proverbe of a shrewe ! 
Thou seist, that oxen, asses, hors, and houndes, 285 

They been assayd at diverse stoundes ; 
Bacyns, lavours, er that men hem bye, 
Spoones and stooles, and al swich housbondrye, 
And so been pottes, clothes, and array; 

But folk of wyves maken noon assay 290 

Til they be wedded, olde dotard shrewe! 
Thanne, seistow, we wol oure vices shewe. 
Thou seist also, that it displeseth me 
But if that thou wolt preyse my beautee, 
And but thou poure alwey upon my face, 295 

And clepe me 'faire dame' in every place, 
And but thou make a feeste on thilke day 
That I was born, and make me fressh and gay, 
And but thou do to my norice honour, 

And to my chamberere withinne my bour, 300 

And to my fadres folk and hise allyes 
Thus seistow, olde barel ful of lyes ! 
And yet of oure apprentice Janekyn, 
For his crisp heer, shynynge as gold so fyn, 
And for he squiereth me bothe up and doun, 305 

280 houses. 282 that we. 800 chambrere. 


Yet hastow caught a fals suspecioun. 

I wol hym noght, thogh thou were deed tomorwe. 

But tel me this, why hydestow, with sorwe, 

The keyes of my cheste awey fro me ? 

It is my good as wel as thyn, pardee; 310 

What wenestow make an ydiot of oure dame? 

Now, by that lord that called is seint Jame, 

Thou shalt nat bothe, thogh that thou were wood, 

Be maister of my body and of my good; 

That oon thou shalt forgo, maugree thyne eyen. 315 

What nedeth thee of me to enquere or spyen ? 

I trowe thou woldest loke me in thy chiste. 

Thou sholdest seye, 'Wyf, go wher thee liste, 

Taak youre disport, I wol not leve no talys, 

I knowe yow for a trewe wyf, dame Alys.' 320 

We love no man that taketh kepe or charge 

Wher that we goon, we wol ben at our large. 

Of alle men yblessed moot he be, 

The wise astrologien, Daun Ptholome, 

That seith this proverbe in his Almageste: 325 

'Of alle men his wysdom is the hyeste, 

That rekketh nevere who hath the world in honde.' 

By this proverbe thou shalt understonde, 

Have thou ynogh, what thar thee recche or care 

How myrily that othere folkes fare? 330 

He is to greet a nygard, that wolde werne 

A man to lighte his candle at his lanterne ; 

He shal have never the lasse light, pardee, 335 

Have thou ynogh, thee thar nat pleyne thee. 

Thou seyst also, that if we make us gay 

With clothyng and with precious array, 

That it is peril of oure chastitee; 

And yet, with sorwe, thou most enforce thee, 340 

And seye thise wordes in the apostles name, 

'In habit, maad with chastitee and shame, 

808 this om. 911 to make. 319 not om. 323 blessed. 


Ye wommen shul apparaille yow/ quod he, 

'And noght in tressed heer and gay perree, 

As perles, ne with gold, ne clothes riche/ 345 

After thy text, ne after thy rubriche 

I wol nat wirche, as muchel as a gnat ! 

Thou seydest this, that I was lyk a cat ; 

For whoso wolde senge a cattes skyn, 

Thanne wolde the cat wel dwellen in his in. 350 

And if the cattes skyn be slyk and gay, 

She wol nat dwelle in house half a day, 

But forth she wole, er any day be dawed, 

To shewe hir skyn, and goon a caterwawed. 

This is to seye, if I be gay, sire shrewe, 355 

I wol renne out, my borel for to shewe. 

Sire olde fool, what eyleth thee to spyen, 

Thogh thou preye Argus, with hise hundred eyen, 

To be my wardecors, as he kan best, 

In feith he shal nat kepe me but me lest; 360 

Yet koude I make his berd, so moot I thee. 

Thou seydest eek, that ther been thynges thre, 

The whiche thynges troublen al this erthe, 

And that no wight ne may endure the ferthe. 

O leeve sire shrewe, Jesu shorte thy lyf ! 365 

Yet prechestow, and seyst, an hateful wyf 

Yrekened is for oon of thise meschances. 

Been ther none othere maner resemblances 

That ye may likne youre parables to, 

But if a sely wyf be oon of tho ? 370 

Thou likenest wommenes love to helle, 

To bareyne lond, ther water may nat dwelle. 

Thou liknest it also to wilde fyr; 

The moore it brenneth, the moore it hath desir 

To consume every thyng that brent wole be. 375 

Thou seyst, right as wormes shendeth a tree, 

860 me (2) om. 364 ne om. 366 an and. 868 maner om. 871 liknes?; 
875 consumen. 


Right so a wyf destroyeth hir housbond. 
This knowe they, that been to wyves bonde." 

Lordynges, right thus, as ye have understonde, 
Baar I stifly myne olde housbondes on honde, 380 

That thus they seyden in hir dronkenesse, 
And al was fals, but that I took witnesse 
On Janekyn and on my nece also. 

lord, the pyne I dide hem,, and the wo 

Ful giltelees, by Goddes sweete pyne! 385 

For as an hors I koude byte and whyne, 

1 koude pleyne, thogh I were in the gilt, 
Or elles often tyme hadde I been spilt. 
Who so that first to mille comth first grynt; 

I pleyned first, so was oure werre ystynt. 390 

They were ful glad to excuse hem ful blyve 

Of thyng of which they nevere agilte hir lyve. 

Of wenches wolde I beren hym on honde, 

Whan that for syk unnethes myghte he stonde, 

Yet tikled it his herte, for that he 395 

Wende that I hadde of hym so greet chiertee. 

I swoor that al my walkynge out by nyghte 

Was for tespye wenches that he dighte. 

Under that colour hadde I many a myrthe; 

For al swich thyng was yeven us in oure byrthe, 400 

Deceite, wepyng, spynnyng, God hath yeve 

To wommen kyndely whil they may lyve. 

And thus of o thyng I avaunte me, 

Atte ende I hadde the bettre in ech degree, 

By sleighte, or force, or by som maner thyng, 405 

As by continueel murmure or grucchyng. 

Namely abedde hadden they meschaunce ; 

Ther wolde I chide and do hem no plesaunce, 

I wolde no lenger in the bed abyde, 

If that I felte his arm over my syde 410 

Til he had maad his raunsoun unto me ; 

885 giltlees. 889 who comth first to Mille. 891 ful om. 402 that they. 


Thanne wolde I suffre hym do his nycetee. 

And therfore every man this tale I telle, 

Wynne who so may, for al is for to selle. 

With empty hand men may none haukes lure, 415 

For wynnyng wolde I al his lust endure 

And make me a feyned appetit; 

And yet in bacoun hadde I nevere delit; 

That made me that evere I wolde hem chide. 

For thogh the pope hadde seten hem biside, 420 

I wolde nat spare hem at hir owene bord, 

For by my trouthe I quitte hem word for word. 

As help me verray God omnipotent, 

Though I right now sholde make my testament, 

I ne owe hem nat a word, that it nys quit. 425 

I broghte it so aboute by my wit, 

That they moste yeve it up as for the beste, 

Or elles hadde we nevere been in reste. 

For thogh he looked as a wood leoun, 

Yet sholde he faille of his conclusioun. 430 

Thanne wolde I seye, "Goode lief, taak keepe, 

How mekely looketh Wilkyn oure sheepe! 

Com neer, my spouse, lat me ba thy cheke, 

Ye sholde been al pacient and meke, 

And han a sweete spiced conscience, 435 

Sith ye so preche of Jobes pacience. 

Suffreth alwey, syn ye so wel kan preche, 

And but ye do, certein we shal yow teche 

That it is fair to have a wyf in pees. 

Oon of us two moste bowen, doutelees, 440 

And sith a man is moore resonable, 

Than womman is, ye moste been suffrable." 

Swiche maner wordes hadde we on honde. 

Now wol I speken of my fourthe housbonde. 

My fourthe housbonde was a revelour, 
This is to seyn, he hadde a paramour, 
And I was yong and ful of ragerye, 455 


Stibourne and strong, and joly as a pye. 

Wei koude I daunce to an harpe smale, 

And synge, ywis, as any nyghtyngale, 

Whan I had dronke a draughte of sweete wyn. 

Metellius, the foule cherl, the swyn, 460 

That with a staf birafte his wyf hire lyf, 

For she drank wyn, thogh I hadde been his wyf, 

He sholde nat han daunted me fro drynke. 

And after wyn on Venus moste I thynke, 

For al so siker as cold engendreth hayl, 465 

A likerous mouth moste han a likerous tayl. 

In wommen vinolent is no defence, 

This knowen lecchours by experience. 

But, Lord Crist ! whan that it remembreth me 
Upon my yowthe and on my jolitee, 470 

It tikleth me aboute myn herte-roote. 
Unto this day it dooth myn herte boote 
That I have had my world, as in my tyme. 
But age, alias, that al wole envenyme, 

Hath me biraft my beautee and my pith ! 475 

Lat go, f are-wel, the devel go therwith ! 
The flour is goon, ther is namoore to telle, 
The bren as I best kan, now moste I selle ; 
But yet to be right myrie wol I fonde. 
Now wol I tellen of my fourthe housbonde. 480 

I seye, I hadde in herte greet despit 
That he of any oother had delit; 
But he was quit, by God and by Seint Joce ! 
I made hym of the same wode a croce ; 

Nat of my body in no foul manere, 485 

But certeinly, I made folk swich cheere 
That in his owene grece I made hym f rye 
For angre and for verray jalousye. 
By God, in erthe I was his purgatorie, 

For which I hope his soule be in glorie, 490 

486 certein. 


For God it woot, he sat ful ofte and song 
Whan that his shoo ful bitterly hym wrong! 
Ther was no wight save God and he, that wiste 
In many wise how soore I hym twiste. 

He deyde whan I cam fro Jerusalem, 4Q5 

And lith ygrave under the roode-beem, 
Al is his tombe noght so curyus 
As was the sepulcre of hym Daryus, 
Which that Appelles wroghte subtilly. 

It nys but wast to burye hym preciously, 500 

Lat hym fare-wel, God yeve his soule reste, 
He is now in his grave, and in his cheste. 
Now of my fifthe housbonde wol I telle. 
God lete his soule nevere come in helle! 
And yet was he to me the mooste shrewe; 505 

That feele I on my ribbes al by rewe, 
And evere shal, unto myn endyng day. 
But in oure bed he was ful fressh and gay, 
And therwithal so wel koude he me glose 
Whan that he wolde han my bele chose, 510 

That thogh he hadde me bet on every bon 
He koude wynne agayn my love anon. 
I trowe I loved hym beste, for that he 
Was of his love daungerous to me. 

We wommen han, if that I shal nat lye, 515 

In this matere a queynte f antasye ; 
Wayte what thyng we may nat lightly have, 
Ther-after wol we crie al day and crave. 
Forbede us thyng, and that desiren we; 

Preesse on us faste, and thanne wol we fle; 520 

With daunger oute we al oure chaffare. 
Greet prees at market maketh deere ware, 
And to greet cheep is holde at litel prys ; 
This knoweth every womman that is wys. 
My fifthe housbonde, God his soule blesse, 525 

513 best. 


Which that I took for love and no richesse, 

He somtyme was a clerk of Oxenford, 

And hadde left scole, and wente at horn to bord 

With my gossib, dwellynge in oure toun, 

God have hir soule! hir name was Alisoun. 530 

She knew myn herte and eek my privetee 

Bet than oure parisshe preest, as moot I thee. 

To hir biwreyed I my conseil al, 

For hadde myn housbonde pissed on a wal, 

Or doon a thyng that sholde han cost his lyf, 535 

To hir, and to another worthy wyf, 

And to my nece, which that I loved weel, 

I wolde han toold his conseil every deel. 

And so I dide ful often^ God it woot ! 

That made his face ful often reed and hoot 540 

For verray shame, and blamed hym-self, for he 

Had toold to me so greet a pryvetee. 

And so bifel that ones, in a Lente 
So often tymes I to my gossyb wente, 

For evere yet I loved to be gay, 545 

And for to walke in March, Averill, and May, 
Fro hous to hous to heere sondry talys 
That Jankyn Clerk and my gossyb, dame Alys, 
And I myself into the feeldes wente. 

Myn housbonde was at London al that Lente; 550 

I hadde the bettre leyser for to pleye, 
And for to se, and eek for to be seye 
Of lusty folk; what wiste I, wher my grace 
Was shapen for to be, or in what place ? 

Therfore I made my visitaciouns 555 

To vigilies and to processiouns, 
To prechyng eek, and to thise pilgrimages, 
To pleyes of myracles, and to mariages ; 
And wered upon my gaye scarlet gytes. 
Thise wormes ne thise motthes, ne thise mytes, 560 

550 that the. 


Upon my peril, frete hem never a deel 
And wostow why ? for they were used weel ! 

Now wol I tellen forth what happed me. 
I seye, that in the feeldes walked we, 

Til trewely we hadde swich daliance, 565 

This clerk and I, that of my purveiance 
I spak to hym, and seyde hym, how that he, 
If I were wydwe, sholde wedde me. 
For certeinly, I sey for no bobance, 

Yet was I nevere withouten purveiance 570 

Of mariage, nof othere thynges eek. 
I holde a mouses herte nat worth a leek 
That hath but oon hole for to sterte to, 
And if that faille, thanne is al ydo. 

I bar hym on honde, he hadde enchanted me 575 

My dame taughte me that soutiltee. 
And eek I seyde, I mette of hym al nyght, 
He wolde han slayn me as I lay upright, 
And al my bed was ful of verray blood ; 

But yet I hope that he shal do me good, 580 

For blood bitokeneth gold, as me was taught 
And al was fals, I dremed of it right naught, 
But as I folwed ay my dames loore 
As wel of this, as of othere thynges moore. 

But now sir, lat me se, what I shal seyn? 585 

A ha, by God ! I have my tale ageyn. 

Whan that my f ourthe housbonde was on beere, 
I weep algate, and made sory cheere, 
As wyves mooten for it is usage 

And with my coverchief covered my visage; 590 

But for that I was purveyed of a make, 
I wepte but smal, and that I undertake. 
To chirche was myn housbonde born amorwe 
With neighebores that for hym maden sorwe; 
And Janekyn oure clerk was oon of iho. 595 

583 as om. 595 Jankyn. 


As help me God, whan that I saugh hym go 

After the beere, me thoughte he hadde a paire 

Of legges and of feet so clene and faire, 

That al myn herte I yaf unto his hoold. 

He was, I trowe, a twenty wynter oold, 600 

And I was fourty, if I shal seye sooth, 

But yet I hadde alwey a coltes tooth. 

Gat-tothed I was, and that bicam me weel, 

I hadde the prente of Seinte Venus seel. 

As help me God, I was a lusty oon, 605 

And faire, and riche, and yong, and wel bigon, 

And trewely, as myne housbondes tolde me, 

I hadde the beste quonyam myghte be. 

For certes, I am al Venerien 

In feelynge, and myn herte is Marcien. 610 

Venus me yaf my lust, my likerousnesse, 

And Mars yaf me my sturdy hardynesse. 

Myn ascendent was Taur, and Mars therinne, 

Alias, alias, that evere love was synne ! 

I folwed ay myn inclinacioun 615 

By vertu of my constellacioun ; 

That made me I koude noght withdrawe 

My chambre of Venus from a good felawe. 

Yet have I Martes mark upon my face, 

And also in another privee place. 620 

For God so wys be my savacioun, 

I ne loved nevere by no discrecioun, 

But evere folwede myn appetit, 

Al were he short, or long, or blak, or whit. 

I took no kepe, so that he liked me, 625 

How poore he was, ne eek of what degree. 

What sholde I seye, but at the monthes ende 

This joly clerk Jankyn, that was so hende, 

Hath wedded me with greet solempnytee, 

And to hym yaf I al the lond and fee 630 

604 seint. 623 folwed. 


That evere was me yeven therbif oore ; 

But afterward repented me ful score, 

He nolde suffre nothyng of my list. 

By God, he smoot me ones on the lyst 

For that I rente out of his book a leef, 635 

That of the strook myn ere wax al deef. 

Stibourne I was as is a leonesse, 

And of my tonge a verray jangleresse, 

And walke I wolde, as I had doon biforn, 

From hous to hous, although he had it sworn, 640 

For which he often-tymes wolde preche, 

And me of olde Romayn geestes teche, 

How he Symplicius Gallus lefte his wyf, 

And hir forsook for terme of al his lyf, 

Noght but for open-heveded he hir say, 645 

Lookynge out at his dore, upon a day. 

Another Romayn tolde he me by name, 

That for his wyf was at a someres game 

Withoute his wityng, he forsook hir eke. 

And thanne wolde he upon his Bible seke 650 

That ilke proverbe of Ecclesiaste, 

Where he comandeth, and forbedeth faste, 

Man shal nat suffre his wyf go roule aboute, 

Thanne wolde he seye right thus, withouten doute: 

"Who so that buyldeth his hous al of salwes, 655 

And priketh his blynde hors over the falwes, 

And suffreth his wyf to go seken halwes, 

Is worthy to been hanged on the galwes !" 

But al for noght, I sette noght an hawe 

Of his proverbes, nof his olde lawe, 660 

Ne I wolde nat of hym corrected be. 

I hate hym that my vices telleth me ; 

And so doo mo, God woot, of us than I ! 

This made hym with me wood al outrely, 

I nolde noght forbere hym in no cas. 665 

649 with outen. 660 awe. 


Now wol I seye yow sooth, by seint Thomas, 
Why that I rente out of his book a leef, 
For which he smoot me so that I was deef. 
He hadde a book that gladly, nyght and day, 
For his desport he wolde rede alway. 670 

He cleped it 'Valerie and Theofraste,' 
At whiche book he lough alwey ful faste. 
And eek ther was som tyme a clerk at Rome, 
A cardinal that highte Seint Jerome, 

That made a book agayn Jovinian, 675 

In whiche book eek ther was Tertulan, 
Crisippus, Trotula, and Helowys, 
That was abbesse nat fer fro Parys, 
And eek the Parables of Salomon, 

Ovides Art, and bookes many on, 680 

And alle thise were bounden in o volume, 
And every nyght and day was his custume 
Whan he hadde leyser and vacacioun 
From oother worldly occupacioun 

To reden on this book of wikked wyves. 685 

He knew of hem mo legendes and lyves 
Than been of goode wyves in the Bible. 
For trusteth wel, it is an inpossible 
That any clerk wol speke good of wyves, 
But if it be of hooly seintes lyves, 690 

Ne noon oother womman never the mo. 
Who peyntede the leoun, tel me, who? 
By God, if wommen hadde writen stories, 
As clerkes han withinne hire oratories, 

They wolde han writen of men moore wikkednesse 695 

Than all the mark of Adam may redresse. 
The children of Mercuric and Venus 
Been in hir wirkyng ful contrarius, 
Mercuric loveth wysdam and science, 
And Venus loveth ryot and dispence. 700 

672, 676 which. 692 peynted. 


And for hire diverse disposicioun 

Ech falleth in other es exaltacioun, 

And thus, God woot, Mercuric is desolat 

In Pisces, wher Venus is exaltat; 

And Venus falleth ther Mercuric is reysed. 705 

Therfore no womman of no clerk is preysed. 

The clerk, whan he is oold and may noght do 

Of Venus werkes worth his olde sho, 

Thanne sit he doun, and writ in his dotage 

That wommen kan nat kepe hir mariage. 710 

But now to purpos, why I tolde thee 
That I was beten for a book, pardee. 
Upon a nyght Jankyn, that was oure sire, 
Redde on his book as he sat by the fire 

Of Eva first, that for hir wikkednesse 715 

Was al mankynde broght to wrecchednesse, 
For which that Jesu Crist hymself was slayn, 
That boghte us with his herte-blood agayn. 
Lo, heere expres of womman may ye fynde, 
That womman was the los of al mankynde. 720 

Tho redde he me how Sampson loste hise heres, 
Slepynge, his lemman kitte it with hir sheres, 
Thurgh whiche tresoun loste he bothe hise eyen. 
Tho redde he me, if that I shal nat lyen, 
Of Hercules and of his Dianyre, 725 

That caused hym to sette hymself afyre. 
No thyng forgat he the penaunce and wo 
That Socrates hadde with hise wyves two, 
How Xantippa caste pisse up-on his heed. 
This sely man sat stille as he were deed; 730 

He wiped his heed, namoore dorste he seyn 
But, "er that thonder stynte, comth a reyn." 
Of Phasifpha, that was the queene of Crete, 
For shrewednesse hym thoughte the tale swete 
Fy, speke namoore ! it is a grisly thyng 735 

717 that Jesu om. 723 which. 727 penaunce sorwe. 


Of hir horrible lust and hir likyng. 
Of Clitermystra for hire lecherye, 
That falsly made hir housbonde for to dye, 
He redde it with ful good devocioun. 

He tolde me eek for what occasioun 740 

Amphiorax at Thebes loste his lyf. 
Myn housbonde hadde a legende of his wyf 
Eriphilem, that for an ouche of gold 
Hath prively unto the Grekes told 

Wher that hir housbonde hidde hym in a place, 745 

For which he hadde at Thebes sory grace. 
Of Lyma tolde he me, and of Lucye, 
They bothe made hir housbondes for to dye, 
That oon for love, that oother was for hate. 
Lyma hir housbonde, on an even late, 750 

Empoysoned hath, for that she was his fo. 
Lucia likerous loved hir housbonde so, 
That for he sholde alwey upon hire thynke, 
She yaf hym swich a manere love-drynke 
That he was deed, er it were by the morwe. 755 

And thus algates housbondes han sorw. 
Thanne tolde he me, how that Latumyus 
Compleyned unto his felawe Arrius, 
That in his gardyn growed swich a tree, 
On which he seyde how that hise wyves thre 760 

Hanged hemself, for herte despitus. 
"O leeve brother," quod this Arrius, 
"Yif me a plante of thilke blissed tree, 
And in my gardyn planted it shal bee." 
Of latter date of wyves hath he red, 765 

That somme han slayn hir housbondes in hir bed, 
And lete hir lecchour dighte hir al the nyght, 
Whan that the corps lay in the floor upright. 
And somme han dryve nayles in hir brayn 
Whil that they slepte, and thus they han hem slayn. 770 
750 upon. 757 that oon. 


Somme lian hem yeve poysoun in hir drynke. 

He spak moore harm than herte may bithynke, 
And therwithal he knew of mo proverbes 
Than in this world ther growen gras or herbes. 
"Bet is/' quod he, "thyn habitacioun 775 

Be with a leoun, or a foul dragoun, 
Than with a womman usynge for to chyde." 
"Bet is," quod he, "hye in the roof abyde 
Than with an angry wyf doun in the hous, 
They been so wikked and coiitrarious. 780 

They haten that hir housbondes loveth ay." 
He seyde, "a womman cast hir shame away 
Whan she cast of hir smok," and forther mo, 
"A fair womman, but she be chaast also, 
Is lyk a goldryng in a sowes nose." 785 

Who wolde leeve, or who wolde suppose 
The wo that in myn herte was, and pyne? 
And whan I saugh he wolde nevere fyne 
To reden on this cursed book al nyght, 

Al sodeynly thre leves have I plyght 790 

Out of his book, right as he radde, and eke 
I with my fest so took hym on the cheke, 
That in oure fyr he fil bakward adoun. 
And he up-stirte as dooth a wood leoun, 

And with his fest he smoot me on the heed 795 

That in the floor I lay, as I were deed. 
And whan he saugh how stille that I lay, 
He was agast, and wolde han fled his way, 
Til atte laste out of my swogh I breyde. 
"O, hastow slayn me, false theef," I seyde, 800 

"And for my land thus hastow mordred me? 
Er I be deed,, yet wol I kisse thee." 
And neer he cam and kneled faire adoun, 
And seyde, "deere suster Alisoun, 

As help me God, I shal thee nevere smyte. 805 

That I have doon, it is thyself to wyte, 


Foryeve it me, and that I thee biseke." 

And yet eftsoones I hitte hym on the cheke, 

And seyde, "theef, thus muchel am I wreke; 

Now wol I dye, I may no lenger speke." 810 

But atte laste, with muchel care and wo, 

We fille acorded by us selven two. 

He yaf me al the bridel in myn hond, 

To han the governance of hous and lond, 

And of his tonge, and of his hond also, 815 

And made hym brenne his book anon right tho. 

And whan that I hadde geten unto me 

By maistrie, al the soveraynetee, 

And that he seyde, "myn owene trewe wyf, 

Do as thee lust the terme of al thy lyf, 320 

Keepe thyn honour, and keep eek myn estaat," 

After that day we hadden never debaat. 

God help me so, I was to hym as kynde 

As any wyf from Denmark unto Ynde, 

And also trewe, and so was he to me. 825 

I prey to God, that sit in magestee, 

So blesse his soule for his mercy deere. 

Now wol I seye my tale, if ye wol heere. 

Biholde the -wordes bitwene the Somonour and the Frere. 

The Frere lough whan he hadde herd al this. 

"Now dame," quod he, "so have I joye or blis, 830 

This is a long preamble of a tale." 

And whan the Somonour herde the Frere gale, 

"Lo," quod the Somonour, "Goddes armes two, 

A frere wol entremette hym evere-mo. 

Lo goode men, a flye and eek a frere 835 

Wol falle in every dyssh and eek mateere. 

What spekestow of preambulacioun ? 

What, amble, or trotte, or pees, or go sit doun, 

815 of (2) om. 820 the to. 


Thou lettest oure disport in this manere." 

"Ye, woltow so, sire Somonour?" quod the frere, 840 

"Now by my feith, I shal er that I go 

Telle of a Somonour swich a tale or two 

That alle the folk shal laughen in this place." 

"Now elles, frere, I bishrewe thy face," 

Quod this Somonour, "and I bishrewe me, 845 

But if I telle tales two or thre 

Of freres, er I come to Sidyngborne, 

That I shal make thyn herte for to morne, 

For wel I woot thy pacience is gon." 

Oure Hooste cride, "Pees, and that anon !" 850 

And seyde, "lat the womman telle hire tale, 

Ye fare as folk that dronken were of ale. 

Do, dame, telle forth youre tale, and that is best." 

"Al redy, sire," quod she, "right as yow lest, 

If I have licence of this worthy frere." 855 

"Yis, dame," quod he, "tel forth, and I wol heere." 

Heere endeth the Wyf of Bathe hir Prologe. 


Here bigynneth the Tale of the Wyf of Bathe. 

In tholde dayes of the Kyng Arthour, 
Of which that Britons speken greet honour, 
All was this land fulfild of Fayerye. 

The elf-queene, with hir joly compaignye, 860 

Daunced ful ofte in many a grene mede; 
This was the olde opinion, as I rede. 
I speke of manye hundred yeres ago ; 
But now kan no man se none elves mo, 

For now the grete charitee and prayeres 865 

Of lymytours, and othere hooly freres, 
That serchen every lond and every streem 
As thikke as motes in the sonne-beem, 
Blessynge halles, chambres, kichenes, boures, 
Citees, burghes, castels, hye toures, 870 

Thropes, bernes, shipnes, dayeryes, 
This maketh that ther been no Fayeryes. 
For ther as wont to walken was an elf, 
Ther walketh now the lymytour hymself 
In undermeles and in morwenynges, 875 

And seyth his matyns and his hooly thynges 
As he gooth in his lymytacioun. 
Wommen may go saufly up and doun; 
In every bussh or under every tree 

Ther is noon oother incubus but he, 880 

And he ne wol doon hem but dishonour. 

And so bifel it that this kyng Arthour 
Hadde in his hous a lusty bacheler, 
That on a day cam ridynge fro ryver; 
And happed that, allone as she was born, 885 

857 the om. 859 ffairye. 882 it om. 872 ffairyes. 883 his om. 885 she he. 


He saugh a mayde walkynge hym biforn, 

Of whiche mayde anon, maugree hir heed, 

By verray force he rafte hir maydenhed; 

For which oppressioun was swich clamour 

And swich pursute unto the kyng Arthour, 890 

That dampned was this knyght for to be deed 

By cours of lawe, and sholde han lost his heed, 

Paraventure, swich was the statut tho, 

But that the queene and othere ladyes mo 

So longe preyeden the kyng of grace, 895 

Til he his lyf hym graunted in the place, 

And yaf hym to the queene al at hir wille, 

To chese, wheither she wolde hym save or spille. 

The queene thanketh the kyng with al hir myght, 

And after this thus spak she to the knyght, 900 

Whan that she saugh hir tyme, upon a day, 

"Thou standest yet," quod she, "in swich array 

That of thy lyf yet hastow no suretee. 

I grante thee lyf, if thou kanst tellen me 

What thyng is it that wommen moost desiren. 905 

Be war and keep thy nekke-boon from iren, 

And if thou kanst nat tellen it anon, 

Yet shal I yeve thee leve for to gon 

A twelf-month and a day to seche and leere 

An answere suffisant in this mateere; 910 

And suretee wol I han, er that thou pace, 

Thy body for to yelden in this place." 

Wo was this knyght, and sorwefully he siketh, 
But what ! he may nat do al as hym liketh ; 
And at the laste he chees hym for to wende, 915 

And come agayn right at the yeres ende, 
With swich answere as God wolde hym purveye; 
And taketh his leve, and wendeth forth his weye. 
He seketh every hous and every place, 

Where as he hopeth for to fynde grace 920 

887 which. 888 he om.; birafte. 895 preyden. 914 what om. 


To lerne what thyng wommen loven moost; 
But he ne koude arryven in no coost 
Wher as he myghte fynde in this mateere 
Two creatures accordynge in feere. 

Somme seyde, wommen loven best richesse, 925 

Somme seyde honour, somme seyde jolynesse, 
Somme riche array, somme seyden lust abedde, 
And oftetyme to be wydwe and wedde. 
Somme seyde, that oure hertes been moost esed 
Whan that we been yflatered and yplesed 930 

He gooth ful ny the sothe, I wol nat lye, 
A man shal wynne us best with flaterye ; 
And with attendance and with bisynesse 
Been w T e ylymed, bothe moore and lesse. 
And somme seyn, how that we loven best 935 

For to be free, and do right as us lest, 
And that no man repreve us of oure vice, 
But seye that we be wise, and nothyng nyce. 
For trewely, ther is noon of us alle, 

If any wight wol clawe us on the galle, 940 

That we nel kike ; for he seith us sooth ; 
Assay, and he shal fynde it that so dooth. 
For be we never so vicious withinne, 
We wol been holden wise, and clene of synne. 
And somme seyn, that greet delit han we 945 

For to been holden stable and eke secree, 
And in o purpos stedefastly to dwelle, 
And nat biwreye thyng that men us telle. 
But that tale is nat worth a rake-stele, 

Pardee, we wommen konne no thyng hele. 950 

Witnesse on Myda wol ye heere the tale? 
Ovyde, amonges othere thynges smale, 
Seyde, Myda hadde under his longe heres 
Growynge upon his heed two asses eres, 
The whiche vice he hydde, as he best myghte, 955 

985 how om. 955 which. 


Ful subtilly from every mannes sighte; 

That, save his wyf, ther wiste of it namo, 

He loved hir moost and trusted hir also. 

He preyede hir, that to no creature 

She sholde tellen of his disfigure. 

She swoor him nay, for al this world to wynne, 

She nolde do that vileynye or synne, 

To make hir housbonde han so foul a name, 

She nolde nat telle it for hir owene shame ! 

But nathelees, hir thoughte that she dyde, 965 

That she so longe sholde a conseil hyde, 

Hir thoughte it swal so soore aboute hir herte 

That nedely som word hir moste asterte. 

And sith she dorste telle it to no man, 

Doun to a mareys faste by she ran, 970 

Til she came there, hir herte was afyre, 

And as a bitore bombleth in the myre, 

She leyde hir mouth unto the water doun ; 

"Biwreye me nat, thou water, with thy soun," 

Quod she, "to thee I telle it and namo, 975 

Myn housbonde hath longe asses erys two ! 

Now is myn herte al hool, now is it oute, 

I myghte no lenger kepe it, out of doute." 

Heere may ye se, thogh we a tyme abyde, 

Yet out it moot, we kan no conseil hyde. 980 

The remenant of the tale, if ye wol heere, 

Redeth Ovyde, and ther ye may it leere. 

This knyght, of which my tale is specially, 
Whan that he saugh he myghte nat come therby, 
This is to seye, what wommen love moost, 985 

Withinne his brest ful sorweful was the goost. 
But hoom he gooth, he myghte nat sojourne; 
The day was come that homward moste he tourne, 
And in his wey it happed hym to ryde <> 
In al this care under a forest syde, 990 

*8 truste. 959 preyde. 


Wher as he saugh upon a daunce go 

Of ladyes f oure and twenty, and yet mo ; 

Toward the whiche daunce he drow ful yerne, 

In hope that som wysdom sholde he lerne. 

But certeinly, er he came fully there, 995 

Vanysshed was this daunce, he nyste where; 

No creature saugh he that bar lyf, 

Save on the grene he saugh sittynge a wyf, 

A fouler wight ther may no man devyse. 

Agayn the knyght this olde wyf gan ryse, 1000 

And seyde, "Sire knyght, heer-forth ne lith no wey; 

Tel me what that ye seken, by your fey. 

Paraventure it may the bettre be, 

Thise olde folk kan muchel thyng," quod she. 

"My leeve mooder," quod this knyght, "certeyn, 1005 

I nam but deed, but if that I kan seyn 

What thyng it is, that wommen moost desire. 

Koude ye me wisse, I wolde wel quite youre hire." 

"Plight me thy trouthe, heere in myn hand/' quod she, 

"The nexte thyng that I requere thee, 1010 

Thou shalt it do, if it lye in thy myght, 

And I wol telle it yow, er it be nyght." 

"Have heer my trouthe," quod the knyght, "I grante." 

"Thanne," quod she, "I dar me wel avante, 

Thy lyf is sauf, for I wol stonde therby 1015 

Upon my lyf, the queene wol seye as I. 

Lat se which is the proudeste of hem alle, 

That wereth on a coverchief or a calle, 

That dar seye nay of that I shal thee teche. 

Lat us go forth withouten lenger speche." 1020 

Tho rowned she a pistel in his ere, 

And bad hym to be glad and have no fere. 

Whan they be comen to the court, this knyght 
Seyde he had holde his day, as he hadde hight, 
And redy was his answere, as he sayde. 1025 

993 which. 



Ful many a noble wyf, and many a mayde, 

And many a wydwe, for that they been wise, 

The queene hirself sittynge as a justise, 

Assembled been, his answere for to heere ; 

And afterward this knyght was bode appeere. 1030 

To every wight comanded was silence, 

And that the knyght sholde telle in audience 

What thyng that worldly wommen loven best. 

This knyght ne stood nat stille, as doth a best, 

But to his questioun anon answerde 1035 

With manly voys, that al the court it herde: 

"My lige lady, generally," quod he, 

"Wommen desiren to have sovereynetee 

As wel over hir housbond as hir love, 

And for to been in maistrie hym above. 1040 

This is youre mooste desir, thogh ye me kille, 

Dooth as yow list, I am heer at youre wille." 

In al the court ne was ther wyf ne mayde 

Ne wydwe that contraried that he sayde, 

But seyden he was worthy han his lyf. 1045 

And with that word up stirte the olde wyf, 

Which that the knyght saugh sittynge in the grene. 

"Mercy," quod she, "my sovereyn lady queene, 

Er that youre court departe, do me right. 

I taughte this answere unto the knyght, 1050 

For which he plighte me his trouthe there, 

The firste thyng I wolde of hym requere, 

He wolde it do, if it lay in his myght. 

Bifor the court thanne preye I thee, sir kynght," 

Quod she, "that thou me take unto thy wyf, 1055 

For wel thou woost that I have kept thy lyf. 

If I seye fals, sey nay, upon thy fey!" 

This knyght answerde, "Alias and weylawey ! 

I woot right wel that swich was my biheste ! 

For Goddes love, as chees a newe requeste, 1060 

1028 a om. 1088 to om/. 1042 heer om. 1052 of om. 


Taak al my good, and lat my body go !" 

"Nay, thanne," quod she, "I shrewe us bothe two, 

For thogh that I be foul, and oold, and poore, 

I nolde for al the metal, ne for oore, 

That under erthe is grave, or lith above, 1065 

But if thy wyf I were, and eek thy love." 

"My love?" quod he, "nay, my dampnacioun! 

Alias, that any of my nacioun 

Sholde evere so foule disparaged be !" 

But al for noght, the ende is this, that he 1070 

Constreyned was, he nedes moste hir wedde, 
And taketh his olde wyf, and gooth to bedde. 
Now wolden som men seye, paraventure, 
That for my necligence I do no cure 

To tellen yow the joye and al tharray, 1075 

That at the f eeste was that ilke day ; 
To whiche thyng shortly answere I shal. 
I seye, ther nas no joye ne f eeste at al, 
Ther nas but hevynesse and muche sorwe, 
For prively he wedde hir on a morwe, 1080 

And al day after hidde hym as an owle, 
So wo was hym, his wyf looked so foule. 
Greet was the wo the knyght hadde in his thoght, 
Whan he was with his wyf abedde ybroght, 
He walweth and he turneth to and fro. 1085 

His olde wyf lay smylynge everemo, 
And seyde, "O deere housbonde, benedicitee, 
Fareth every knyght thus with his wyf, as ye ? 
Is this the lawe of Kyng Arthures hous ? 
Is every knyght of his so dangerous? 1090 

I am youre owene love, and eek your wyf ; 
I am she which that saved hath youre lyf. 
And certes, yet dide I yow nevere unright ; 
Why fare ye thus with me this firste nyght ? 

1063 and (l) om. 1070 thende. 1077 which. 1080 wedded. 1091 eek om. 
1093 ne dide. 


Ye faren lyk a man had lost his wit. 1095 

What is my gilt ? for Goddes love, tel it, 

And it shal been amended, if I may." 

"Amended/' quod this knyght, "alias ! nay ! nay ! 

It wol nat been amended nevere mo ; 

Thou art so loothly and so oold also 1100 

And therto comen of so lough a kynde, 

That litel wonder is thogh I walwe and wynde. 

So wolde God, myn herte wolde breste !" 

"Is this," quod she, "the cause of youre unreste?" 

"Ye, certeinly," quod he, "no wonder is!" 1105 

"Now, sire," quod she, "I koude amende al this, 

If that me liste, er it were dayes thre, 

So wel ye myghte bere yow unto me. 

But for ye speken of swich gentillesse 

As is descended out of old richesse, 1110 

That therfore sholden ye be gentil men, 
Swich arrogance nis nat worth an hen. 
Looke who that is moost vertuous alway, 
Pryvee and apert, and moost entendeth ay 
To do the gentil dedes that he kan, 1115 

Taak hym for the grettest gentil-man. 
Crist wole, we clayme of hym oure gentillesse, 
Nat of oure eldres for hire old richesse. 
For thogh they yeve us al hir heritage, 

For which we clayme to been of heigh parage, 1120 

Yet may they nat biquethe for no thyng 
To noon of us hir vertuous lyvyng, 
That made hem gentil men ycalled be, 
And bad us folwen hem in swich degree. 
Wel kan the wise poete of Florence, 1125 

That highte Dant, speken in this sentence. 
Lo in swich maner rym is D antes tale: 
'Ful selde upriseth by his branches smale 
Prowesse of man, for God of his goodnesse 
1112 is. 


Wole, that of hym we clayme oure gentillesse.' 1130 

For of oure eldres may we no thyng clayme 

But temporel thyng, that man may hurte and mayme. 

Eek every wight woot this as wel as I, 

If gentillesse were planted natureelly 

Unto a certeyn lynage doun the lyne, 1135 

Pryvee nor apert, thanne wolde they nevere fyne 

To doon of gentillesse the faire office, 

They myghte do no vileynye or vice. 

Taak fyr, and ber it in the derkeste hous 

Bitwix this and the mount of Kaukasous, 1140 

And lat men shette the dores and go thenne, 

Yet wole the fyr as faire lye and brenne 

As twenty thousand men myghte it biholde ; 

His office natureel ay wol it holde, 

Up peril of my lyf, til that it dye. 1 145 

Heere may ye se wel, how that genterye 
Is nat annexed to possessioun, 
Sith folk ne doon hir operacioun 
Alwey, as dooth the fyr, lo, in his kynde. 
For God it woot, men may wel often fynde 1150 

A lordes sone do shame and vileynye, 
And he that wole han pris of his gentrye, 
For he was boren of a gentil hous, 
And hadde hise eldres noble and vertuous, 
And nel hym-selven do no gentil dedis, 1155 

Ne folwen his gentil auncestre that deed is, 
He nys nat gentil, be he due or erl; 
For vileyns synful dedes make a cherl. 
For gentillesse nys but renomee 

Of thyne auncestres for hire heigh bountee, 1160 

Which is a strange thyng to thy persone. 
Thy gentillesse cometh fro God allone, 
Thanne comth oure verray gentillesse of grace, 
It was no thyng biquethe us with oure place. 
1153 born. 


Thenketh hou noble, as seith Valerius, 1165 

Was thilke Tullius Hostillius, 

That out of poverte roos to heigh noblesse. 

Reedeth Senek, and redeth eek Boece, 

Ther shul ye seen expres that it no drede is, 

That he is gentil that dooth gentil dedis. 1170 

And therfore, leeve housbonde, I thus conclude, 

Al were it that myne auncestres weren rude, 

Yet may the hye God and so hope I, 

Grante me grace to lyven vertuously. 

Thanne am I gentil whan that I bigynne 1175 

To lyven vertuously, and weyve synne. 

And ther as ye of poverte me repreeve, 
The hye God, on whom that we bileeve 
In wilful poverte chees to lyve his lyf. 

And certes every man, mayden or wyf, 1 1 80 

May understonde that Jesus, hevene kyng, 
Ne wolde nat chesen vicious lyvyng. 
Glad poverte is an honeste thyng, certeyn, 
This wole Senec and othere clerkes seyn. 
Who so that halt hym payd of his poverte, 1185 

I holde hym riche, al hadde he nat a sherte; 
He that coveiteth is a povre wight, 
For he wolde han that is nat in his myght, 
But he that noght hath, ne coveiteth have, 
Is riche^ although ye holde hym but a knave. 1190 

Verray poverte, it syngeth proprely. 
Juvenal seith of poverte myrily, 
'The povre man, whan he goth by the weye, 
Bifore the theves he may synge and pleye.' 
Poverte is hateful good, and, as I gesse, 1195 

A ful greet bryngere out of bisynesse ; 
A greet amender eek of sapience 
To hym that taketh it in pacience. 
Poverte is this, although it seme elenge; 

1168 Reed. 1169 it om. 1187 pouere. 1199 alenge. 


Possessioun, that no wight wol chalenge. 1200 

Poverte ful ofte, whan a man is lowe, 

Maketh his God and eek hymself to knowe; 

Poverte a spectacle is, as thynketh me, 

Thurgh which he may hise verray freendes see. 

And therfore, sire, syn that I noght yow greve, 1205 

Of my poverte namoore ye me repreve. 

Now sire, of elde ye repreve me, 
And certes, sire, thogh noon auctoritee 
Were in no book, ye gentils of honour 

Seyn, that men sholde an oold wight doon favour, 1210 

And clepe hym fader for youre gentillesse, 
And auctours shal I fynden, as I gesse. 

Now, ther ye seye that I am foul and old, 
Than drede you noght to been a cokewold; 
For filthe and eelde, al so moot I thee, 1215 

Been grete wardeyns upon chastitee; 
But nathelees, syn I knowe youre delit, 
I shal fulfille youre worldly appetit." 
"Chese now," quod she, "oon of thise thynges tweye: 
To han me foul and old til that I deye, 1220 

And be to yow a trewe humble wyf, 
And nevere yow displese in al my lyf ; 
Or elles ye wol han me yong and fair, 
And take youre aventure of the repair 

That shal be to youre hous, by cause of me, 1225 

Or in som oother place may wel be. 
Now chese yourselven wheither that yow liketh." 

This knyght avyseth hym and sore siketh, 
But atte laste, he seyde in this manere : 

"My lady and my love, and wyf so deere, 1230 

I put me in youre wise governance. 
Cheseth yourself, which may be moost plesance 
And moost honour to yow and me also. 
I do no fors the wheither of the two, 
For, as yow liketh, it suffiseth me." 1235 


"Thanne have I gete of yow maistrie," quod she, 

"Syn I may chese and governe as me lest?" 

"Ye, certes, wyf/' quod he, "I holde it best." 

"Kys me," quod she, "we be no lenger wrothe, 

For, by my trouthe, I wol be to yow bothe! 1240 

This is to seyn, ye, bothe fair and good. 

I prey to God that I moote sterven wood 

But I to yow be al so good and trewe 

As evere was wyf, syn that the world was newe. 

And but I be tomorn as fair to scene 1245 

As any lady, emperice or queene, 

That is bitwixe the est and eke the west, 

Dooth with my lyf and deth right as yow lest. 

Cast up the curtyn, looke how that it is." 

And whan the knyght saugh verraily al this, 1250 

That she so fair was, and so yong therto, 
For joye he hente hire in hise armes two. 
His herte bathed in a bath of blisse, 
A thousand tyme arewe he gan hir kisse, 

And she obeyed hym in every thyng 1255 

That myghte doon hym plesance or likyng. 

And thus they lyve unto hir lyves ende 
In parfit joye; and Jesu Crist us sende 
Housbondes meeke, yonge, fressh abedde, 
And grace toverbyde hem that we wedde. 1260 

And eek I praye Jesu shorte hir lyves, 
That nat wol be governed by hir wyves ; 
And olde and angry nygardes of dispence, 
God sende hem soone verray pestilence ! 

1261 pray. 

Heere endeth the Wyves tale of Bathe. 


The Prologe of the Freres Tale. 

This worthy lymytour, this noble frere, 1265 

He made alwey a maner louryng chiere 
Upon the Somonour, but for honestee 
No vileyns word as yet to hym spak he. 
But atte laste he seyde unto the wyf, 

"Dame/' quod he, "God yeve yow right good lyf ! 1270 

Ye han heer touched, also moot I thee, 
In scole-matere greet difficultee. 
Ye han seyd muche thyng right wel, I seye. 
But dame, heere as we ryde by the weye 
Us nedeth nat to speken but of game, 1275 

And lete auctoritees, on Goddes name, 
To prechyng and to scole eek of clergye. 
But if it lyke to this compaignye, 
I wol yow of a somonour telle a game. 

Pardee, ye may wel knowe by the name 1280 

That of a somonour may no good be sayd; 
I praye that noon of you be yvele apayd. 
A somonour is a renner up and doun 
With mandementz for fornicacioun, 

And is ybet at every townes ende." 1285 

Oure Hoost tho spak, "A sire, ye sholde be hende 
And curteys, as a man of youre estaat. 
In compaignye we wol have no debaat. 
Telleth youre tale, and lat the Somonour be/' 
"Nay," quod the Somonour, "lat hym seye to me 1290 

What so hym list. Whan it comth to my lot, 
By God I shal hym quiten every grot. 
I shal hym tellen which a greet honour 
It is to be a flaterynge lymytour, 

1278 But And. 


And his office I shal hym telle, ywis." 12Q5 

Oure Hoost answerde, "Pees, namoore of this !" 
And after this he seyde unto the Frere, 
"Tel forth youre tale, leeve maister deere." 


[How a Summoner, meeting a devil dressed as a yeoman, 
agrees to share gifts with him as a friend; and is himself 
consigned to the devil by a poor old woman. Then follow 
the Summoner's Prologue and Tale of an insult put by a 
goodman upon a greedy friar.] 



Heere folweth the Prologe of the clerkes tale of Oxenford. 

"Sire clerk of Oxenford/' oure Hooste sayde, 

"Ye ryde as coy and stille as dooth a mayde, 

Were newe spoused, sittynge at the bord. 

This day ne herde I of youre tonge a word. 

I trowe ye studie about som sophyme; 5 

But Salomon seith, 'every thyng hath tyme.' 

For Goddes sake, as beth of bettre cheere; 

It is no tyme for to studien heere, 

Telle us som myrie tale, by youre fey. 

For what man that is entred in a pley, 10 

He nedes moot unto the pley assente ; 

But precheth nat as freres doon in Lente, 

To make us for oure olde synnes wepe, 

Ne that thy tale make us nat to slepe. 

Telle us som murie thyng of aventures ; 15 

Youre termes, youre colours, and youre figures, 

Keep hem in stoor, til so be that ye endite 

Heigh style, as whan that men to kynges write. 

Speketh so pleyn at this tyme, we yow preye, 

That we may understonde what ye seye." 20 

This worthy clerk benignely answerde, 

"Hooste," quod he, "I am under youre yerde. 

Ye han of us as now the governance ; 

And therfore wol I do yow obeisance 

As fer as resoun axeth, hardily. 25 

I wol yow telle a tale, which that I 

Lerned at Padwe of a worthy clerk, 

1, 22 Hoost. 


As preved by his wordes and his werk. 

He is now deed, and nayled in his cheste ; 

I prey to God so yeve his soule reste. 30 

Fraunceys Petrark, the lauriat poete, 

Highte this clerk, whos rethorike sweete 

Enlumyned al Ytaille of poetrie, 

As Lynyan dide of philosophic, 

Or lawe, or oother art particuler. 35 

But deeth, that wol nat suffre us dwellen heer 

But as it were a twynklyng of an eye, 

Hem bothe hath slayn, and alle shul we dye. 

But forth to tellen of this worthy man, 
That taughte me this tale as I bigan, 40 

I seye, that first with heigh stile he enditeth 
Er he the body of his tale writeth, 
A prohemye in the which discryveth he 
Pemond, and of Saluces the contree, 

And speketh of Apennyn, the hilles hye, 45 

That been the boundes of Westlumbardye ; 
And of Mount Vesulus in special, 
Where as the Poo out of a welle smal 
Taketh his firste spryngyng and his sours, 
That estward ay encresseth in his cours 50 

To Emeleward, to Ferrare, and Venyse; 
The which a long thyng were to devyse. 
And trewely, as to my juggement, 
Me thynketh it a thyng impertinent, 

Save that he wole convoyen his mateere; 55 

But this his tale, which that ye may heere." 
SI Perak. 32 rethorik. 36 suffre us om. 


Heere bigynneth the tale of the Clerk of Oxenford. 

Ther is, at the west syde of Ytaille, 

Doun at the roote of Vesulus the colde, 

A lusty playne, habundant of vitaille, 

Where many a tour and toun thou mayst biholde 60 

That founded were in tyme of fadres olde, 

And many another delitable sighte, 

And Saluces this noble contree highte. 

A markys whilom lord was of that lond, 

As were hise worthy eldres hym bifore, 65 

And obeisant and redy to his hond 

Were alle hise liges, bothe lasse and moore. 

Thus in delit he lyveth, and hath doon yoore, 

Biloved and drad thurgh favour of Fortune, 

Bothe of hise lordes and of his commune. 70 

Therwith he was, to speke as of lynage, 

The gentilleste yborn of Lumbardye; 

A fair persone, and strong,, and yong of age, 

And ful of honour and of curteisye, 

Discreet ynogh his contree for to gye, 75 

Save that in somme thynges that he was to blame, 

And Walter was this yonge lordes name. 

I blame hym thus, that he considereth noght 
In tyme comynge what hym myghte bityde, 
But in his lust present was al his thoght, 80 

As for to hauke and hunte on every syde. 
Wei ny alle othere cures leet he slyde ; 
And eek he nolde, and that was worst of alle 
Wedde no wyf, for noght that may bifalle. 
74 of om. 


Oonly that point his peple bar so score, 85 

That flokmeele on a day they to hym wente, 

And oon of hem, that wisest was of loore, 

Or elles that the lord best wolde assente, 

That he sholde telle hym what his peple mente, 

Or elles koude he shewe wel swich mateere, 90 

He to the markys seyde as ye shul heere : 

"O noble Markys, youre humanitee 

Asseureth us, and yeveth us hardinesse, 

As ofte as tyme is of necessitee 

That we to yow mowe telle oure hevynesse. 95 

Accepteth, lord, now for youre gentillesse 

That we with pitous herte unto yow pleyne, 

And lat youre eres nat my voys desdeyne, 

Al have I noght to doone in this mateere 

Moore than another man hath in this place; 100 

Yet for as muche as ye, my lord so deere, 

Han alwey shewed me favour and grace, 

I dar the bettre aske of yow a space 

Of audience to shewen oure requeste, 

And ye, my lord, to doon right as yow leste. 105 

For certes, lord, so wel us liketh yow 

And al youre werk, and evere han doon that we 

Ne koude nat us-self devysen how 

We myghte lyven in moore felicitee, 

Save o thyng, lord, if it youre wille be, 110 

That for to been a wedded man yow leste, 

Thanne were youre peple in sovereyn hertes reste. 

Boweth youre nekke under that blisful yok 

Of soveraynetee, noght of servyse, 

Which that men clepeth spousaille or wedlok; 115 

93 and yeveth to yeve. 110 it om. 


And thenketh, lord, among youre thoghtes wyse 
How that oure dayes passe in sondry wyse, 
For thogh we slepe, or wake, or rome, or ryde, 
Ay fleeth the tyme, it nyl no man abyde. 

And thogh youre grene youthe floure as yit, 120 

In crepeth age alwey, as stille as stoon, 

And deeth manaceth every age, and smyt 

In ech estaat, for ther escapeth noon; 

And al so certein as we knowe echoon 

That we shul deye, as uncerteyn we alle 125 

Been of that day, whan deeth shal on us falle, 

Accepteth thanne of us the trewe entente 

That nevere yet refuseden thyn heeste; 

And we wol, lord, if that ye wole assente, 

Chese yow a wyf in short tyme atte leeste, 130 

Born of the gentilleste and of the meeste 

Of al this land, so that it oghte seme 

Honour to God and yow, as we kan deeme. 

Delivere us out of al this bisy drede, 

And taak a wyf for hye Goddes sake, 135 

For if it so bifelle, as God forbede, 

That thurgh your deeth your lyne sholde slake, 

And that a straunge successour sholde take 

Youre heritage, o wo were us alyve ! 

Wherfore we pray you hastily to wyve." 140 

Hir meeke preyere and hir pitous cheere 

Made the markys herte han pitee. 

"Ye wol," quod he, "myn owene peple deere, 

To that I nevere erst thoughte, streyne me. 

I me rejoysed of my liberte, 145 

That seelde tyme is founde in mariage. 

Ther I was free, I moot been in servage. 


But nathelees I se youre trewe entente, 

And truste upon youre wit, and have doon ay ; 

Wherfore of my free wyl I wole assente 150 

To wedde me, as soone as evere I may. 

But ther as ye ban profred me this day 

To chese me a wyf, I yow relesse 

That choys, and prey yow of that profre cesse. 

For God it woot, that children ofte been 155 

Unlyk hir worthy eldres hem bifore. 

Bountee comth al of God, nat of the streen, 

Of which they been engendred and ybore. 

I truste in Goddes bontee ; and therf ore 

My mariage, and myn estaat and reste, 160 

I hym bitake, he may doon as hym leste. 

Lat me allone in chesynge of my wyf, 

That charge upon my bak I wole endure ; 

But I yow preye, and charge upon youre lyf 

That what wyf that I take, ye me assure 165 

To worshipe hir, whil that hir lyf may dure, 

In word and werk, bothe heere and everywheere, 

As she an emperoures doghter weere. 

And forthermoore, this shal ye swere, that ye 

Agayn my choys shul neither grucche ne stryve, 170 

For sith I shal forgoon my libertee 

At youre requeste, as evere moot I thryve, 

Ther as myn herte is set, ther wol I wyve ! 

And but ye wole assente in this manere, 

I prey yow, speketh namoore of this matere." 175 

With hertely wyl they sworen and assenten 
To al this thyng, ther seyde no wight nay, 
Bisekynge hym of grace er that they wenten, 

154 yow om. 165 That om. 


That he wolde graunten hem a certein day 

Of his spousaille, as soone as evere he may, 180 

For yet alwey the peple somwhat dredde 

Lest that this markys no wyf wolde wedde. 

He graunted hem a day, swich as hym leste, 

On which he wolde be wedded sikerly, 

And seyde he dide al this at hir requeste; 185 

And they with humble entente, buxomly, 

Knelynge upon hir knees ful reverently 

Hym thonken alle, and thus they han an ende 

Of hir entente, and hoom agayn they wende. 

And heerupon he to hise officeres 190 

Comaundeth for the feste to purveye, 

And to hise privee knyghtes and squieres 

Swich charge yaf, as hym liste on hem leye. 

And they to his comandement obeye, 

And ech of hem dooth al his diligence 195 

To doon unto the feeste reverence. 

Explicit prima pars. 
Incipit secunda pars. 

Noght fer fro thilke paleys honurable 
Ther as this markys shoop his mariage, 
Ther stood a throop, of site delitable, 

In which that povre folk of that village 200 

Hadden hir beestes and hir herbergage, 
And of hir labour tooke hir sustenance, 
After that the erthe yaf hem habundance. 

Amonges thise povre folk ther dwelte a man 

Which that was holden povrest of hem alle; 205 

(But hye God somtyme senden kan 

His grace into a litel oxes stalle) 


Janicula men of that throop hym calle. 

A doghter hadde he, fair ynogh to sighte, 

And Grisildis this yonge may den highte. 210 

But for to speke of vertuous beautee, 

Thanne was she oon the faireste under sonne, 

For povreliche yfostred up was she, 

No likerous lust was thurgh hir herte yronne. 

Wei ofter of the welle than of the tonne 215 

She drank, and for she wolde vertu plese 

She knew wel labour but noon ydel ese. 

But thogh this mayde tendre were of age. 

Yet in the brest of hire virginitee 

Ther was enclosed rype and sad corage ; 220 

And in greet reverence and charitee 

Hir olde povre fader fostred shee. 

A fewe sheepe, spynnynge on feeld she kepte, 

She wolde noght been ydel, til she slepte. 

And whan she homward cam, she wolde brynge 225 

Wortes, or othere herbes tymes ofte, 

The whiche she shredde and seeth for hir lyvynge, 

And made hir bed ful harde and no thyng softe; 

And ay she kepte hir fadres lyf on lofte 

With everich obeisaunce and diligence 230 

That child may doon to fadres reverence. 

Upon Grisilde, this povre creature, 

Ful ofte sithe this markys caste his eye, 

As he on huntyng rood paraventure. 

And whan it fil that he myghte hire espye, 235 

He noght with wantowne lookyng of folye 

Hise eyen caste on hir, but in sad wyse, 

Upon hir chiere he wolde hym ofte avyse, 

211 bountee. 235 that it. 238 wolde gan. 


Commendynge in his herte hir wommanhede 

And eek hir vertu, passynge any wight 240 

Of so yong age, as wel in chiere as dede. 

For thogh the peple hadde no greet insight 

In vertu, he considered ful right 

Hir bountee, and disposed that he wolde 

Wedde hir oonly, if evere he wedde sholde. 245 

The day of weddyng cam, but no wight kan 
Telle what womman that it sholde be, 
For which merveille wondred many a man, 
And seyden, whan that they were in privetee, 
"Wol nat oure lord yet leve his vanytee? 250 

Wol he nat wedde ? alias, alias, the while ! 
Why wole he thus hymself and us bigile ?" 

But nathelees this markys hath doon make 

Of gemmes set in gold and in asure 

Brooches and rynges, for Grisildis sake, 255 

And of hir clothyng took he the mesure, 

By a mayde lyk to hir stature, 

And eek of othere ornementes alle 

That unto swich a weddyng sholde falle. 

The time of undren of the same day 260 

Approcheth, that this weddyng sholde be; 

And al the paleys put was in array, 

Bothe halle and chambres, ech in his degree ; 

Houses of office stuffed with plentee 

Ther maystow seen, of deyntevous vitaille, 265 

That may be founde as f er as last Ytaille. 

This roial markys, richely arrayed, 

Lordes and ladyes in his compaignye, 

The whiche that to the feeste weren yprayed, 

258 aornementes. 



And of his retenue the bachelrye, 270 

With many a soun of sondry melodye 
Unto the village, of the which I tolde, 
In this array the righte wey han holde. 

Grisilde (of this, God woot, ful innocent, 

That for hir shapen was al this array) 275 

To fecchen water at a welle is went, 

And cometh hoom as soone as ever she may ; 

For wel she hadde herd seyd, that thilke day 

The markys sholde wedde, and if she myghte, 

She wolde fayn han seyn som of that sighte. 280 

She thoghte, "I wole with othere maydens stonde, 

That been my felawes, in oure dore, and se 

The markysesse, and therfore wol I fonde 

To doon at hoom as soone as it may be 

The labour, which that longeth unto me, 285 

And thanne I may at leyser hir biholde, 

If she this wey unto the castel holde." 

And as she wolde over hir thresshfold gon 

The markys cam and gan hire for to calle, 

And she set doun hir water pot anon 290 

Biside the thresshfold in an oxes stalle, 

And doun up-on hir knes she gan to falle, 

And with sad contenance kneleth stille, 

Til she had herd what was the lordes will. 

This thoghtful markys spak unto this mayde 295 

Ful sobrely, and seyde in this manere, 

"Where is youre fader, O Grisildis?" he sayde, 

And she with reverence in humble cheere 

Answerde, "Lord, he is al redy heere." 

And in she gooth, withouten lenger lette, 

And to the markys she hir fader fette. 

277 comth. 



He by the hand thanne took this olde man, 

And seyde thus, whan he hym hadde asyde, 

"Janicula, I neither may ne kan 

Lenger the plesance of myn herte hyde; 305 

If that thou vouchsauf, what so bityde, 

Thy doghter wol I take, er that I wende, 

As for my wyf unto hir lyves ende. 

Thou lovest me, I woot it wel certeyn, 

And art my feithful lige man ybore, 310 

And all that liketh me, I dar wel seyn, 

It liketh thee; and specially therfore 

Tel me that poynt that I have seyd bifore, 

If that thou wolt unto that purpos drawe, 

To take me as for thy sone-in-lawe." 315 

This sodeyn cas this man astonyed so, 

That reed he wax abayst and al quakyng 

He stood, unnethes seyde he wordes mo, 

But oonly thus, "Lord," quod he, "my willynge 

Is as ye wole, ne ayeyns youre likynge 320 

I wol no thyng, ye be my lord so deere ; 

Right as yow lust governeth this mateere." 

"Yet wol I" quod this markys softely, 
"That in thy chambre I and thou and she 
Have a collacioun, and wostow why? 325 

For I wol axe, if it hir wille be 
To be my wyf, and reule hir after me; 
And al this shal be doon in thy presence, 
! I wol noght speke out of thyn audience." 

And in the chambre whil they were aboute 330 

Hir tretys which as ye shal after heere, 
The peple cam unto the hous withoute, 
And wondred hem in how honeste manere 


And tentifly she kepte hir fader deere. 

But outrely Grisildis wondre myghte 335 

For nevere erst ne saugh she swich a sighte. 

No wonder is thogh that she were astoned 

To seen so greet a gest come in that place; 

She nevere was to swiche gestes woned, 

For which she looked with ful pale face 340 

But shortly forth this tale for to chace, 

Thise arn the wordes that the markys sayde 

To this benigne verray feithful mayde. 

"Grisilde," he seyde, "ye shal wel understonde 

It liketh to youre fader and to me 345 

That I yow wedde, and eek it may so stonde, 

As, I suppose, ye wol that it so be. 

But thise demandes axe I first/' quod he, 

"That sith it shal be doon in hastif wyse, 

Wol ye assente, or elles yow avyse? 350 

I seye this, be ye redy with good herte 

To al my lust, and that I frely may, 

As me best thynketh, do yow laughe or smerte, 

And nevere ye to grucche it nyght ne day, 

And eek whan I sey ye, ne sey nat nay, 355 

Neither by word, ne frownyng contenance? 

Swere this, and heere I swere yow alliance." 

Wondrynge upon this word, quakynge for drede, 

She seyde, "Lord, undigne and unworthy 

Am I to thilke honour, that ye me beede, 360 

But as ye wole yourself, right so wol I. 

And heere I swere, that nevere willyngly 

In werk ne thoght I nyl yow disobeye, 

For to be deed, though me were looth to deye." 


"This is ynogh, Grisilde myn," quod he, 365 

And forth he gooth with a ful sobre cheere 

Out at the dore, and after that cam she; 

And to the peple he seyde in this manere, 

"This is my wyf/' quod he, "that standeth heere; 

Honour eth hir, and loveth hir, I preye, 370 

Whoso me loveth ; ther is namoore to seye." 

And for that nothyng of hir olde geere 

She sholde brynge into his hous, he bad 

That wommen sholde dispoillen hir right theere ; 

Of which thise ladyes were nat right glad 375 

To handle hir clothes, wherinne she was clad 

But nathelees, this mayde bright of hewe 

Fro foot to heed they clothed han al newe. 

Hir heris han they kembd, that lay untressed 

Ful rudely, and with hir fyngres smale 380 

A corone on hir heed they han ydressed, 

And sette hir ful of nowches grete and smale. 

Of hir array what sholde I make a tale ? 

Unnethe the peple hire knew for hir fairnesse 

Whan she translated was in swich richesse. 385 

This markys hath hir spoused with a ryng 

Broght for the same cause, and thanne hir sette 

Upon an hors, snow-whit and wel amblyng, 

And to his paleys, er he lenger lette, 

With joyful peple that hir ladde and mette 390 

Convoyed hir ; and thus the day they spende 

In revel, til the sonne gan descende. 

And shortly forth this tale for to chace, 

I seye, that to this newe markysesse 

God hath swich favour sent hir of his grace, 3Q5 

That it ne semed nat by liklynesse 


That she was born and fed in mdenesse 
As in a cote or in an oxe-stalle, 
But norissed in an emperoures halle. 

To every wight she woxen is so deere 400 

And worshipful, that folk ther she was bore 

And from hir birthe knewe hir yeer by yeere, 

Unnethe trowed they, but dorste han swore 

That she to Janicle, of which I spak bifore, 

She doghter nere, for as by conj ecture, 405 

Hem thoughte she was another creature. 

For though that evere vertuous was she, 

She was encressed in swich excellence, 

Of thewes goode, yset in heigh bountee, 

And so discreet and fair of eloquence, 410 

So benigne, and so digne of reverence, 

And koude so the peples herte embrace, 

That ech hir lovede, that looked on hir face. 

Noght oonly of Saluces in the toun 

Publiced was the bountee of hir name, 415 

But eek biside in many a regioun, 

If oon seide wel, another seyde the same; 

So spradde of hir heighe bountee the fame 

That men and wommen, as wel yonge as olde, 

Goon to Saluce upon hir to biholde. 420 

Thus Walter lowely, nay ! but roially 

Wedded with fortunat honestetee, 

In Goddes pees lyveth ful esily 

At hoom, and outward grace ynogh had he, 

And for he saugh that under low degree 425 

Was ofte vertu hid, the peple hym heelde 

A prudent man, and that is seyn ful seelde. 

405 were. 415 beaute. 418 fame name. 425 low heigh. 426 ofte om. 


Nat oonly this Grisildis thurgh hir wit 

Koude al the feet of wyfly humblenesse, 

But eek, whan that the cas required it, 430 

The commune profit koude she redresse. 

Ther nas discord, rancour, ne hevynesse 

In al that land, that she ne koude apese, 

And wisely brynge hem alle in reste and ese. 

Though that hir housbonde absent were anon 435 

If gentil men, or othere of hir contree 

Were wrothe, she wolde bryngen hem aton. 

So wise and rype wordes hadde she, 

And juggementz of so greet equitee, 

That she from hevene sent was, as men wende, 440 

Peple to save and every wrong tamende. 

Nat longe tyme after that this Grisild 

Was wedded, she a doghter hath ybore 

Al had hir levere have born a man child ; 

Glad was this markys and the folk therfore, 445 

For though a mayde child coome al bifore, 

She may unto a knave child atteyne 

By liklihede, syn she nys nat bareyne. 

Explicit secunda pars. 
Incipit tercia pars. 

Ther fil, as it bifalleth tymes mo, 

Whan that this child had souked but a throwe, 450 

This markys in his herte longeth so 
To tempte his wyf, hir sadnesse for to knowe, 
That he ne myghte out of his herte throwe 
This merveillous desir his wyf tassaye. 
Nedelees, God woot, he thoghte hir for taffraye. 455 

He hadde assayed hir ynogh bifore, 
And foond hir evere good; what neded it 


Hir for to tempte and alwey moore and moore? 

Though som men preise it for a subtil wit, 

But as for me, I seye that yvele it sit 460 

To assaye a wyf, whan that it is no nede, 

And putten hir in angwyssh and in drede. 

For which this markys wroghte in this manere; 

He cam allone a nyght, ther as she lay, 

With stierne face and with ful trouble cheere, 465 

And seyde thus, "Grisilde," quod he, "that day 

That I yow took out of your povere array, 

And putte yow in estaat of heigh noblesse, 

Ye have nat that forgeten, as I gesse. 

I seye, Grisilde, this present dignitee 470 

In which that I have put yow, as I trowe 

Maketh yow nat foryetful for to be 

That I yow took in povre estaat ful lowe 

For any wele ye moot youreselven knowe. 

Taak heede of every word that y yow seye, 475 

Ther is no wight that hereth it but we tweye. 

Ye woot yourself wel how that ye cam heere 

Into this hous, it is nat longe ago. 

And though to me that ye be lief and deere, 

Unto my gentils ye be no thyng so. 480 

They seyn, to hem it is greet shame and wo 

For to be subgetz, and to been in servage, 

To thee that born art of a smal village. 

And namely, sith thy doghter was ybore, 

Thise wordes han they spoken, doutelees ; 485 

But I desire, as I have doon bifore, 

To lyve my lyf with hem in reste and pees. 

I may nat in this caas be recchelees, 

I moot doon with thy doghter for the beste, 

Nat as I wolde, but as my peple leste. 


And yet God woot, this is f ul looth to me ! 

But nathelees, withoute youre wityng 

I wol nat doon, but this wol I," quod he, 

"That ye to me assente as in this thyng. 

Shewe now youre pacience in youre werkyng, 4Q5 

That ye me highte and swore in youre village, 

That day that maked was oure mariage." 

Whan she had herd al this, she noght ameved 

Neither in word, or chiere, or countenaunce ; 

For as it semed she was nat agreved. 500 

She seyde, "Lord, al lyth in youre plesaunce, 

My child, and I, with hertely obeisaunce 

Been youres al, and ye mowe save and spille 

Your owene thyng, werketh after youre wille. 

Ther may no thyng, God so my soule save, 505 

Liken to yow, that may displese me, 

Ne I ne desire no thyng for to have, 

Ne drede for to leese save oonly yee; 

This wyl is in myn herte, and ay shal be ; 

No lengthe of tyme or deeth may this deface, 510 

Ne chaunge my corage to another place." 

Glad was this markys of hir answeryng, 

But yet he feyned as he were nat so. 

Al drery was his cheere and his lookyng, 

Whan that he sholde out of the chambre go. 515 

Soone after this, a furlong wey or two, 

He prively hath toold al his entente 

Unto a man, and to his wyf hym sente. 

A maner sergeant was this privee man, 

The which that feithful ofte he founden hadde 520 

In thynges grete, and eek swich folk wel kan 

Doon execucioun on thynges badde. 


The lord knew wel that he hym loved and dradde ; 

And whan this sergeant wiste the lordes wille, 

Into the chambre he stalked hym fill stille. 525 

"Madame/' he seyde, "ye moote foryeve it me 

Though I do thyng to which I am constreyned, 

Ye been so wys, that ful wel knowe ye 

That lordes heestes mowe nat been yfeyned, 

They mowe wel been biwailled and compleyned, 530 

But men moote nede unto hir lust obeye; 

And so wol I, ther is namoore to seye. 

This child I am comanded for to take." 

And spak namoore, but out the child he hente 

Despitously, and gan a cheere make 525 

As though he wolde han slayn it er he wente. 

Grisildis moot al suffren and consente, 

And as a lamb she sitteth meke and stille, 

And leet this crueel sergeant doon his wille. 

Suspecious was the diffame of this man, 540 

Suspect his face, suspect his word also, 

Suspect the tyme in which he this bigan. 

Alias, hir doghter that she loved so ! 

She wende he wolde han slawen it right tho ; 

But nathelees she neither weep ne syked, 545 

Consentynge hir to that the markys lyked. 

But atte laste speken she bigan, 

And mekely she to the sergeant preyde, 

So as he was a worthy gentil man, 

That she moste kisse hire child, er that it deyde, 550 

And in hir barm this litel child she leyde, 

With ful sad face, and gan the child to kisse, 

And lulled it, and after gan it blisse. 

547 to speken. 


And thus she seyde in hir benigne voys, 

"Fareweel, my child, I shal thee nevere see, 555 

But sith I thee have marked with the croys 

Of thilke fader blessed moote thou be, 

That for us deyde upon a croys of tree. 

Thy soule, litel child, I hym bitake, 

For this nyght shaltow dyen for my sake/' 560 

I trowe, that to a norice in this cas 

It had been hard this reuthe for to se ; 

Wei myghte a mooder thanne han cryd 'alias !' 

But nathelees so sad and stidefast was she, 

That she endured al adversitee, 565 

And to the sergeant mekely she sayde, 

"Have heer agayn your litel yonge mayde." 

"Gooth now," quod she, "and dooth my lordes heeste ; 

But o thyng wol I prey yow of youre grace, 

That, but my lord forbad yow atte leeste, 570 

Burieth this litel body in som place 

That beestes ne no briddes it torace." 

But he no word wol to that purpos seye, 

But took the child, and wente upon his weye. 

This sergeant cam unto his lord ageyn, 575 

And of Grisildis wordes and hir cheere 

He tolde hym point for point, in short and pleyn, 

And hym presenteth with his doghter deere. 

Somwhat this lord hath routhe in his manere, 

But nathelees his purpos heeld he stille, 580 

As lordes doon whan they wol han hir wille ; 

And bad his sergeant, that he pryvely 
Sholde this child ful softe wynde and wrappe, 
With alle circumstances tendrely, 

557 thou he. 583 ful om. 


And carie it in a cofre or in a lappe, 585 

But upon peyne his heed of for to swappe 
That no man sholde knowe of his entente, 
Ne whenne he cam, ne whider that he wente. 

But at Boloigne to his suster deere, 

That thilke tyme of Panik was Countesse, 590 

He sholde it take, and shewe hir this mateere, 

Bisekynge hir to doon hir bisynesse 

This child to fostre in alle gentillesse, 

And whos child that it was, he bad hire hyde 

From every wight, for oght that may bityde. 595 

The sergeant gooth, and hath fulfild this thyng, 

But to this markys now retourne we, 

For now gooth he ful faste ymaginyng, 

If by his wyves cheere he myghte se 

Or by hir word aperceyve that she 000 

Were chaunged, but he nevere hir koude fynde, 

But evere in oon ylike sad and kynde. 

As glad, as humble, as bisy in servyse, 

And eek in love, as she was wont to be, 

Was she to hym in every maner wyse, 605 

Ne of hir doghter noght a word spak she. 

Noon accident for noon adversitee 

Was seyn in hir, ne nevere hir doghter name 

Ne nempned she, in ernest nor in game. 

Explicit tercia pars. 
Sequitur pars quarta. 

In this estaat ther passed been foure yeer 610 

Er she with childe was ; but as God wolde, 
A knave child she bar by this Walter, 

588 he cam om. 590 Pavik. 594 hire hym. 612 knave man. 


Ful gracious and fair for to biholde. 

And whan that folk it to his fader tolde, 

Nat oonly he, but al his contree, merye 615 

Was for this child, and God they thanke and herye. 

Whan it was two yeer old, and fro the brest 

Departed of his norice, on a day 

This markys caughte yet another lest 

To tempte his wyf yet ofter if he may. 620 

O, nedelees was she tempted in assay ! 

But wedded men ne knowe no mesure, 

Whan that they fynde a pacient creature. 

"Wyf," quod this markys, "ye han herd er this 

My peple sikly berth oure mariage; 625 

And namely sith my sone yboren is, 

Now is it worse than evere in al oure age. 

The murmure sleeth myn herte and my corage, 

For to myne eres comth the voys so smerte, 

That it wel ny destroyed hath myn herte. 630 

Now sey they thus, 'whan Walter is agon, 

Thanne shal the blood of Janicle succede, 

And been oure lord, for oother have we noon/ 

Swiche wordes seith my peple, out of drede, 

Wel oughte I of swich murmur taken heede, 635 

For certeinly I drede swich sentence, 

Though they nat pleyn speke in myn audience. 

I wolde lyve in pees, if that I myghte ; 

Wherfore I am disposed outrely 

As I his suster servede by nyghte, 640 

Right so thenke I to serve hym pryvely. 

This warne I yow, that ye nat sodeynly 

Out of youreself for no wo sholde outreye. 

Beth pacient, and therof I yow preye." 

626 yborn. 640 served. 


"I have," quod she, "seyd thus, and evere shal, 645 

I wol no thyng, ne nyl no thyng, certayn, 

But as yow list, naught greveth me at al 

Though that my doughter and my sone be slayn 

At youre comandement, this is to sayn 

I have noght had no part of children tweyne 650 

But first siknesse, and after wo and peyne. 

Ye been oure lord, dooth with your owene thyng 

Right as yow list, axeth no reed at me ; 

For as I lefte at hoom al my clothyng, 

Whan I first cam to yow, right so," quod she, 655 

"Lefte I my wyl and al my libertee, 

And took youre clothyng, wherfore I yow preye, 

Dooth youre plesaunce; I wol youre lust obeye. 

And certes, if I hadde prescience 

Youre wyl to knowe, er ye youre lust me tolde, 660 

I wolde it doon withouten necligence. 

But now I woot your lust and what ye wolde, 

Al your plesance ferme and stable I holde, 

For wiste I that my deeth wolde do yow ese, 

Right gladly wolde I dyen yow to plese. 665 

Deth may noght make no comparisoun 

Unto youre love !" and whan this markys say 

The Constance of his wyf, he caste adoun 

Hise eyen two, and wondreth that she may 

In pacience suffre al this array; 670 

And forth he goth with drery contenance, 

But to his herte it was ful greet plesance. 

This ugly sergeant, in the same wyse 

That he hir doghter caughte, right so he 

Or worse, if men worse kan devyse, 675 

Hath hent hir sone, that ful was of beautee, 


And evere in oon so pacient was she, 
That she no chiere maade of hevynesse, 
But kiste hir sone, and after gan it blesse. 

Save this, she preyde hym, that if he myghte, 680 

Hir litel sone he wolde in erthe grave 

His tendre lymes, delicaat to sighte, 

Fro foweles and fro beestes for to save. 

But she noon answere of hym myghte have, 

He wente his wey, as hym nothyng ne roghte, 685 

But to Boloigne he tendrely it broghte. 

This markys wondred evere lenger the moore 

Upon hir pacience, and if that he 

Ne hadde soothly knowen therbifoore 

That parfitly hir children loved she, 690 

He wolde have wend that of som subtiltee, 

And of malice, or for crueel corage, 

That she hadde suffred this with sad visage. 

But wel he knew that next hymself, certayn, 

She loved hir children best in every wyse; 69^ 

But now of wommen wolde I axen fayn, 

If thise assayes myghte nat suffise, 

What koude a sturdy housbonde moore devyse 

To preeve hire wyfhod or hir stedefastnesse, 

And he continuynge evere in sturdinesse? 700 

But ther been folk of swich condicioun, 

That whan they have a certein purpos take 

They kan nat stynte of hir entencioun, 

But right as they were bounden to that stake 

They wol nat of that firste purpos slake. 705 

Right so this markys fulliche hath purposed 

To tempte his wyf, as he was first disposed. 


He waiteth, if by word or contenance 

That she to hym was changed of corage; 

But nevere koude he fynde variance, 710 

She was ay oon in herte and in visage. 

And ay the f orther that she was in age, 

The moore trewe if that it were possible 

She was to hym in love, and moore penyble. 

For which it semed thus, that of hem two 715 

Ther nas but o wyl ; for, as Walter leste, 

The same lust was hir plesance also, 

And, God be thanked, al fil for the beste. 

She shewed wel, for no worldly unreste 

A wyf as of hirself no thing ne sholde 720 

Wille in effect, but as hir housbonde wolde. 

The sclaundre of Walter ofte and wyde spradde, 

That of a crueel herte he wikkedly, 

For he a povre womman wedded hadde, 

Hath mordred bothe his children prively. 725 

Swich murmure was among hem comunly; 

No wonder is, for to the peples ere 

Ther cam no word, but that they mordred were. 

For which, wher as his peple therbifore 

Hadde loved hym wel, the sclaundre of his diffame 730 

Made hem, that they hym hatede therfore. 

To been a mordrere is an hateful name ; 

But nathelees, for ernest ne for game 

He of his crueel purpos nolde stente: 

To tempte his wyf was set al his entente. 735 

Whan that his doghter twelf yeer was of age, 
He to the court of Rome in subtil wyse 
Enformed of his wyl sente his message, 

731 hated. 


Comaundynge hem swiche bulles to devyse 

As to his crueel purpos may suffyse, 740 

How that the pope as for his peples reste 

Bad hym to wedde another, if hym leste. 

I seye, he bad they sholde countrefete 

The popes bulles, makynge mencioun 

That he hath leve his firste wyf to lete 745 

As by the popes dispensacioun, 

To stynte rancour and dissencioun 

Bitwixe his peple and hym, thus seyde the bulle, 

The which they han publiced atte fulle. 

The rude peple, as it no wonder is, 750 

Wenden ful wel that it hadde be right so; 

But whan thise tidynges cam to Grisildis, 

I deeme that hir herte was ful wo. 

But she, ylike sad for everemo, 

Disposed was, this humble creature, 755 

The adversitee of Fortune al tendure, 

Abidynge evere his lust and his plesance 

To whom that she was yeven, herte and al, 

As to hir verray worldly suffisance. 

But shortly, if this storie I tellen shal, 760 

This markys writen hath in special 

A lettre, in which he sheweth his entente, 

And secreely he to Boloigne it sente; 

To the Erl of Panyk, which that hadde tho 

Wedded his suster, preyde he specially 765 

To bryngen hoom agayn hise children two, 

In honurable estaat al openly ; 

But o thyng he hym preyede outrely, 

That he to no wight, though men wolde enquere, 

Sholde nat telle whos children that they were, 770 

738 preyde. 



But seye, the mayden sholde ywedded be 

Unto the Markys of Saluce anon. 

And as this Erl was preyed, so dide he; 

For at day set he on his wey is goon 

Toward Saluce, and lordes many oon, 775 

In riche array this mayden for to gyde, 

Hir yonge brother ridynge hir bisyde. 

Arrayed was toward hir mariage 

This fresshe mayde, ful of gemmes cleere; 

Hir brother, which that seven yeer was of age, 780 

Arrayed eek ful fressh in his manere. 

And thus in greet noblesse, and with glad cheere, 

Toward Saluces shapynge hir journey, 

Fro day to day they ryden in hir wey. 

Explicit quarto, pars. 
Sequitur pars quinta. 

Among al this, after his wikke usage, 785 

This markys yet his wyf to tempte moore 

To the outtreste preeve of hir corage, 

Fully to han experience and loore, 

If that she were as stidefast as bifoore, 

He on a day in open audience 790 

Ful boistously hath seyd hir this sentence. 

"Certes, Grisilde, I hadde ynogh plesance, 

To han yow to my wyf for your goodnesse, 

As for youre trouthe, and for your obeisance 

Noght for youre lynage, ne for youre richesse; 795 

But now knowe I, in verray soothfastnesse, 

That in greet lordshipe, if I wel avyse, 

Ther is greet servitute in sondry wyse. 

773 preyd. 


I may nat doon as every plowman may; 

My peple me constreyneth for to take 800 

Another wyf, and crien day by day, 

And eek the pope, rancour for to slake, 

Consenteth it, that dar I undertake 

And treweliche thus muche I wol yow seye, 

My newe wyf is comynge by the weye. 805 

Be strong of herte, and voyde anon hir place, 

And thilke dower that ye broghten me 

Taak it agayn, I graunte it of my grace. 

Retourneth to youre fadres hous/' quod he; 

"No man may alwey han prosperitee. 810 

With evene herte I rede yow tendure 

This strook of Fortune or of aventure." 

And she answerde agayn in pacience, 

"My lord," quod she, "I woot and wiste alway 

How that bitwixen youre magnificence 815 

And my poverte, no wight kan ne may 

Maken comparisoun, it is no nay. 

I ne heeld me nevere digne in no manere 

To be your wyf, no, ne youre chamberere. 

And in this hous ther ye me lady maade, 820 

The heighe God take I for my witnesse, 

And also wysly he my soule glaade, 

I nevere heeld me lady ne maistresse, 

But humble servant to youre worthynesse, 

And evere shal whil that my lyf may dure 825 

Aboven every worldly creature. 

That ye so longe of youre benignitee 
Han holden me in honour and nobleye, 
Wher as I was noght worthy for to bee, 

819 chambrere. 829 for to om. 


That thonke I God and yow, to whom I preye 830 

Foryelde it yow ; ther is namoore to seye. 
Unto rny fader gladly wol I wende, 
And with hym dwelle unto my lyves ende. 

Ther I was fostred of a child ful smal, 

Til I be deed, my lyf ther wol I lede, 835 

A wydwe clene in body, herte, and al, 

For sith I yaf to yow my maydenhede 

And am youre trewe wyf, it is no drede, 

God shilde swich a lordes wyf to take 

Another man, to housbonde or to make. 840 

And of youre newe wyf, God of his grace 

So graunte yow wele and prosperitee, 

For I wol gladly yelden hir my place 

In which that I was blisful wont to bee. 

For sith it liketh yow my lord," quod shee, 845 

"That whilom weren al myn hertes reste, 

That I shal goon, I wol goon whan yow leste. 

But ther as ye me profre swich dowaire 

As I first broghte, it is wel in my mynde 

It were my wrecched clothes, no thyng faire, 850 

The whiche to me were hard now for to fynde. 

O goode God ! how gentil and how kynde 

Ye semed by youre speche and youre visage 

The day that maked was oure mariage ! 

But sooth is seyd, algate I fynde it trewe, 855 

(For in effect it preeved is on me) 

Love is noght oold, as whan that it is newe, 

But certes, lord, for noon adversitee, 

To dyen in the cas it shal nat bee 

That evere in word or werk I shal repente 860 

That I yow yaf myn herte in hool entente. 


My lord, ye woot that in my fadres place 

Ye dide me streepe out of my povre weede, 

And richely me cladden of youre grace. 

To yow broghte I noght elles, out of drede, 865 

But feith, and nakednesse, and maydenhede. 

And heere agayn my clothyng I restoore, 

And eek my weddyng ryng for everemo. 

The remenant of youre jueles redy be 

In-with youre chambre, dar I saufly sayn. 870 

Naked out of my fadres hous," quod she, 

"I cam, and naked moot I turne agayn. 

Al your plesance wol I folwen fayn, 

But yet I hope it be nat your entente 

That I smoklees out of your paleys wente, 875 

Ye koude nat doon so dishoneste a thyng, 

That thilke wombe in which your children leye, 

Sholde biforn the peple in my walkyng 

Be seyn al bare ; wherf ore I yow preye, 

Lat me nat lyk a worm go by the weye ! 880 

Remembre yow, myn owene lord so deere, 

I was your wyf, though I unworthy weere. 

Wherfore, in gerdoun of my maydenhede 

Which that I broghte, and noght agayn I bere, 

As voucheth sauf to yeve me to my meede 885 

But swich a smok as I was wont to were, 

That I therwith may wrye the wombe of here 

That was your wyf, and heer take I my leeve 

Of yow, myn owene lord, lest I yow greve." 

"The smok," quod he, "that thou hast on thy bak, 8QO 

Lat it be stille, and bere it forth with thee." 
But wel unnethes thilke word he spak, 
But wente his wey for routhe and for pitee. 


Biforn the folk hirselven strepeth she, 

And in hir smok, with heed and foot al bare, 895 

Toward hir fader hous forth is she fare. 

The folk hir folwe, wepynge in hir weye, 

And Fortune ay they cursen, as they goon. 

But she fro wepyng kepte hir eyen dreye, 

Ne in this tyme word ne spak she noon. 900 

Hir fader, that this tidynge herde anoon, 

Curseth the day and tyme that nature 

Shoop hym to been a lyves creature. 

For out of doute this olde povre man 

Was evere in suspect of hir mariage, 905 

For evere he denied, sith that it bigan, 

That whan the lord fulfild hadde his corage, 

Hym wolde thynke it were a disparage 

To his estaat, so lowe for talighte, 

And voyden hir as soone as ever he myghte. 910 

Agayns his doghter hastiliche goth he, 

For he by noyse of folk knew hir comynge, 

And with hir olde coote, as it myghte be, 

He covered hir, ful sorwefully wepynge, 

But on hir body myghte he it nat brynge. 915 

For rude was the clooth, and moore of age 

By dayes fele, than at hir mariage. 

Thus with hir fader for a certeyn space 

Dwelleth this flour of wyfly pacience, 

That neither by hir wordes ne hir face, 920 

Biforn the folk ne eek in hir absence, 

Ne shewed she that hir was doon offence, 

Ne of hir heighe estaat no remembraunce 

Ne hadde she, as by hir contenaunce. 

916 and she. 


No wonder is, for in hir grete estaat 925 

Hir goost was evere in pleyn humylitee. 

No tendre mouth, noon herte delicaat, 

No pompe, no semblant of roialtee, 

But ful of pacient benyngnytee, 

Discreet and pridelees, ay honurable, 930 

And to hir housbonde evere meke and stable. 

Men speke of Job, and moost for his humblesse, 

As clerkes whan hem list konne wel endite, 

Namely of men ; but as in soothf astnesse, 

Though clerkes preise wommen but a lite, 935 

Ther kan no man in humblesse hym acquite, 

As womman kan, ne kan been half so trewe 

As wommen been, but it be falle of newe. 

[Par* sexta^\ 

Fro Boloigne is this Erl of Panyk come, 

Of which the fame up sprang to moore and lesse, 940 

And in the peples eres, alle and some, 

Was kouth eek that a newe markysesse 

He with hym broghte, in swich pompe and richesse, 

That nevere was ther seyn with mannes eye 

So noble array in al Westlumbardye. 945 

The markys, which that shoop and knew al this, 

Er that thise Erl was come, sente his message 

For thilke sely povre Grisildis ; 

And she with humble herte and glad visage, 

Nat with no swollen thoght in hire corage 950 

Cam at his heste, and on hir knees hire sette, 

And reverently and wisely she hym grette. 

937 fcan (2) om. 


"Grisilde," quod he, "my wyl is outrely 

This mayden, that shal wedded been to me, 

Received be to morwe as roially 955 

As it possible is in myn hous to be; 

And eek that every wight in his degree 

Have his estaat in sittyng and servyse 

And heigh plesaunce, as I kan best devyse. 

I have no wommen, suffisaunt, certayn, 960 

The chambres for tarraye in ordinaunce 

After my lust, and therfore wolde I fayn 

That thyn were al swich manere governaunce; 

Thou knowest eek of old al my plesaunce, 

Thogh thyn array be badde and yvel biseye, 965 

Do thou thy devoir at the leeste weye." 

"Nat oonly lord, that I am glad," quod she, 

"To doon your lust, but I desire also 

Yow for to serve and plese in my degree 

Withouten feyntyng, and shal everemo. 970 

Ne nevere, for no wele ne no wo, 

Ne shal the goost withinne myn herte stente 

To love yow best with al my trewe entente." 

And with that word she gan the hous to dighte, 

And tables for to sette, and beddes make, 975 

And peyned hir to doon al that she myghte, 

Preyynge the chambereres for Goddes sake 

To hasten hem, and faste swepe and shake, 

And she, the mooste servysable of alle, 

Hath every chambre arrayed, and his halle. 980 

Abouten undren gan this Erl alighte, 

That with hym broghte thise noble children tweye, 

For which the peple ran to seen the sighte 

Of hir array, so richely biseye ; 


And thanne at erst amonges hem they seye, 98o 

That Walter was no fool, thogh that hym leste 
To chaunge his wyf, for it was for the beste. 

"For she is fairer," as they deemen alle, 

"Than is Grisilde, and moore tendre of age, 

And fairer fruyt bitwene hem sholde falle, 990 

And moore plesant for hir heigh lynage." 

Hir brother eek so faire was of visage, 

That hem to seen the peple hath caught plesaunce, 

Commendynge now the markys governaunce. 

O stormy peple, unsad and evere untrewe! 995 

Ay undiscreet and chaungynge as a vane, 
Delitynge evere in rumbul that is newe; 
For lyk the moone ay wexe ye and wane, 
Ay f ul of clappyng, deere ynogh a j ane, 

Youre doom is fals, youre Constance yvele preeveth, 1000 
A f ul greet fool is he that on yow leeveth ! 

Thus seyden sadde folk in that citee, 

Whan that the peple gazed up and doun, 

For they were glad right for the noveltee 

To han a newe lady of hir toun. 1005 

Namoore of this make I now mencioun, 

But to Grisilde agayn wol I me dresse, 

And telle hir Constance and hir bisynesse. 

Ful bisy was Grisilde in every thyng 

That to the feeste was apertinent. 1010 

Right noght was she abayst of hir clothyng, 

Thogh it were rude and somdeel eek torent, 

But with glad cheere to the yate is went 

With oother folk to greete the markysesse, 

And after that dooth forth hir bisynesse. 1015 

1013 is she. 


With so glad chiere hise gestes she receyveth, 

And konnyngly everich in his degree, 

That no defaute no man aperceyveth, 

But ay they wondren what she myghte bee 

That in so povre array was for to see, 1020 

And koude swich honour and reverence ; 

And worthily they preisen hire prudence. 

In al this meenewhile she ne stente 

This mayde and eek hir brother to commende 

With al hir herte, in ful benyngne entente, 1025 

So wel that no man koude hir pris amende, 

But atte laste, whan that thise lordes wende 

To sitten doun to mete, he gan to calle 

Grisilde, as she was bisy in his halle. 

"Grisilde," quod he, as it were in his pley, 1030 

"How liketh thee my wyf and hir beautee ?" 

"Right wel," quod she, "my lord, for in good fey 

A fairer saugh I nevere noon than she. 

I prey to God yeve hir prosperitee, 

And so hope I that he wol to yow sende 1035 

Plesance ynogh unto youre lyves ende. 

O thyng biseke I yow, and warne also 

That ye ne prikke with no tormentynge 

This tendre mayden, as ye han doon mo ; 

For she is fostred in hir norissynge 1040 

Moore tendrely, and to my supposynge 

She koude nat adversitee endure, 

As koude a povre fostred creature." 

And whan this Walter saugh hir pacience, 

Hir glade chiere, and no malice at al, 1045 

And he so ofte had doon to hir offence 

1017 and so. 1045 glad. 1046 offence om. 


And she ay sad and constant as a wal, 

Continuynge evere hir innocence overal, 

This sturdy markys gan his herte dresse 

To rewen upon hir wyfly stedfastnesse. 1050 

"This is ynogh, Grisilde myn," quod he, 

"Be now namoore agast, ne yvele apayed. 

I have thy feith and thy benyngnytee 

As wel as evere womman was, assayed 

In greet estaat, and povreliche arrayed; 1055 

Now knowe I, goode wyf, thy stedfastnesse !" 

And hir in armes took, and gan hir kesse. 

And she for wonder took of it no keep. 

She herde nat, what thyng he to hir seyde. 

She ferde as she had stert out of a sleep, 1060 

Til she out of hire mazednesse abreyde. 

"Grisilde," quod he, "by God that for us deyde, 

Thou art my wyf, ne noon oother I have, 

Ne nevere hadde, as God my soule save. 

This is thy doghter which thou hast supposed 1065 

To be my wyf; that oother feithfully 

Shal be myn heir, as I have ay purposed ; 

Thou bare hym in thy body trewely. 

At Boloigne have I kept hem prively. 

Taak hem agayn, for now maystow nat seye 1070 

That thou hast lorn noon of thy children tweye. 

And folk that ootherweys han seyd of me, 
I warne hem wel that I have doon this deede 
For no malice, ne for no crueltee, 

But for tassaye in thee thy wommanheede, 1075 

And not to sleen my children, God f orbeede ! 
But for to kepe hem pryvely and stille, 
Til I thy purpos knewe and al thy wille." 
1063 ne om. 1067 supposed. 



Whan she this herde, aswowne doun she falleth 

For pitous joye, and after hir swownynge 1080 

She bothe hir yonge children unto hir calleth, 

And in hir armes pitously wepynge 

Embraceth hem,, and tendrely kissynge 

Ful lyk a mooder, with hir salte teeres 

She bathed bothe hir visage and hir heeres. 1085 

O, which a pitous thyng it was to se 

Hir swownyng, and hir humble voys to heere ! 

"Grauntmercy, lord, that thanke I yow," quod she, 

"That ye han saved me my children deere. 

Now rekke I nevere to been deed right heere. 1090 

Sith I stonde in your love and in your grace, 

No f ors of deeth, ne whan my spirit pace ! 

O tendre, O deere, O yonge children myne ! 

Your woful mooder wende stedfastly 

That crueel houndes, or som foul vermyne 1095 

Hadde eten yow ; but God of his mercy 

And youre benyngne fader tendrely 

Hath doon yow kept," and in that same stounde 

Al sodeynly she swapte adoun to grounde. 

And in hir swough so sadly holdeth she 1100 

Hir children two, whan she gan hem tembrace, 

That with greet sleighte and greet difficultee 

The children from hir arm they gonne arace. 

O many a teere on many a pitous face 

Doun ran, of hem that stooden hir bisyde; 1105 

Unnethe abouten hir myghte they abyde. 

Walter hir gladeth, and hir sorwe slaketh, 

She riseth up abaysed from hir traunce, 

And every wight hir joye and feeste maketh, 

Til she hath caught agayn hir contenaunce. 1110 


Walter hir dooth so faithfully plesaunce, 
That it was deyntee for to seen the cheere 
Bitwixe hem two, now they been met yfeere. 

Thise ladyes, whan that they hir tyme say, 

Han taken hir and into chambre gon, 1115 

And strepen hir out of hir rude array 

And in a clooth of gold that brighte shoon, 

With a coroune of many a riche stoon 

Upon hir heed, they into halle hir broghte, 

And ther she was honured as hir oghte. 1120 


Thus hath this pitous day a blisful ende, 
For every man and womman dooth his myght 
This day in murthe and revel to dispende, 
Til on the welkne shoon the sterres lyght. 
For moore solempne in every mannes syght 1125 

This feste was, and gretter of costage, 
Than was the revel of hire mariage. 

Ful many a yeer in heigh prosperitee 
Lyven thise two in concord and in reste. 
And richely his doghter maryed he 1180 

Unto a lord, oon of the worthieste 
Of al Ytaille, and thanne in pees and reste 
His wyves fader in his court he kepeth, 
Til that the soule out of his body crepeth. 

His sone succedeth in his heritage 1135 

In reste and pees, after his fader day, 

And fortunat was eek in mariage 

Al putte he nat his wyf in greet assay; 

This world is nat so strong, it is no nay, 

As it hath been of olde tymes yoore. 1140 

And herkneth what this auctour seith therfoore. 


This storie is seyd, nat for that wyves sholde 

Folwen Grisilde as in humylitee, 

For it were inportable though they wolde, 

But for that every wight in his degree 1145 

Sholde be constant in adversitee 

As was Grisilde. Therfore Petrark writeth 

This storie, which with heigh stile he enditeth. 

For sith a womman was so pacient 

Unto a mortal man, wel moore us oghte 1150 

Receyven al in gree that God us sent. 

For greet skile is, he preeve that he wroghte. 

But he ne tempteth no man that he boghte, 

As seith Seint Jame, if ye his pistel rede ; 

He preeveth folk al day, it is no drede, 1155 

And suffreth us, as for oure excercise, 

With sharpe scourges of adversitee 

Ful ofte to be bete in sondry wise, 

Nat for to knowe oure wyl, for certes he 

Er we were born knew al oure freletee, 11 60 

And for oure beste is al his governaunce. 

Lat us thanne lyve in vertuous suffraunce. 

But o word, lordynges, herkneth er I go, 
It were ful hard to fynde nowadayes 
In al a toun Grisildis thre or two, 1165 

For if that they were put to swiche assayes, 
The gold of hem hath now so badde alayes 
With bras, that thogh the coyne be fair at eye, 
It wolde rather breste atwo than plye. 

For which, heere for the Wyves love of Bathe, 1170 

Whos lyf and al hir secte God mayntene 
In heigh maistrie, and elles were it scathe, 

1160 al om. 


I wol with lusty herte fressh and grene 

Seyn yow a song, to glade yow, I wene, 

And lat us stynte of ernestful matere. 1175 

Herkneth my song, that seith in this manere. 

Lenvoy de Chaucer. 

Grisilde is deed, and eek hir pacience, 

And bothe atones buryed in Ytaille, 

For which I crie in open audience 

No wedded man so hardy be tassaille 1180 

His wyves pacience, in hope to fynde 

Grisildis, for in certein he shal faille. 

O noble wyves, ful of heigh prudence, 

Lat noon humylitee youre tonge naille, 

Ne lat no clerk have cause or diligence 1185 

To write of yow a storie of swich mervaille 

As of Grisildis, pacient and kynde, 

Lest Chichivache yow swelwe in hire entraille. 

Folweth Ekko, that holdeth no silence, 

But evere answereth at the countretaille ; 1190 

Beth nat bidaffed for youre innocence, 

But sharply taak on yow the governaille. 

Emprenteth wel this lessoun in youre mynde 

For commune profit, sith it may availle. 

Ye archiwyves, stondeth at defense, 11 95 

Syn ye be strong as is a greet camaille. 

Ne suffreth nat that men yow doon offense, 

And sklendre wyves, fieble as in bataille, 

Beth egre as is a tygre yond in Ynde, 

Ay clappeth as a mille, I yow consaille. 1200 


Ne dreed hem nat, doth hem no reverence, 

For though thyn housbonde armed be in maille, 

The arwes of thy crabbed eloquence 

Shal perce his brest and eek his aventaille. 

In jalousie I rede eek thou hym bynde, 1205 

And thou shalt make hym couche as doth a quaille. 

If thou be fair, ther folk been in presence 

Shewe thou thy visage and thyn apparaille ; 

If thou be foul, be fre of thy dispence, 

To gete thee freendes ay do thy travaille, 1210 

Be ay of chiere as light as leef on lynde, 

And lat hym care, and wepe, and wryng, and waille. 

Here endeth the Clerk of Oxenford his Tale. 

Bihoold the murye wordes of the Hoost. 

This worthy clerk, whan ended was his tale, 

Oure hoost seyde, and swoor by goddes bones, 

"Me were levere than a barel ale 

My wyf at hoom had herd this legende ones ; 

This is a gentil tale for the nones, 5 

As to my purpos, wiste ye my wille, 

But thyng that wol nat be, lat it be stille." 

Heere endeth the tale of the Cleric of Oxenford. 

[This stanza, perhaps made up by a scribe from other 
lines in Chaucer, is inserted in Ellesmere MS. and elsewhere 
as a link between the Clerk's Tale and the Envoy, ascribed 
to Chaucer. The Envoy, however, belongs to the Clerk, and 
the stanza seems both spurious and unnecessary.] 


The Prologe of the Marchantes tale. 

"Wepyng and waylyng, care and oother sorwe, 
I knowe ynogh, on even and a morwe," 

Quod the Marchant, "and so doon othere mo 1215 

That wedded been, I trowe that it be so. 
For wel I woot, it fareth so with me. 
I have a wyf, the worste that may be,, 
For thogh the feend to hire ycoupled were, 
She wolde hym overmacche, I dar wel swere. 1220 

What sholde I yow reherce in special 
Hir hye malice? She is a shrewe at al! 
Ther is a long and large difference 
Bitwix Grisildis grete pacience 

And of my wyf the passyng crueltee. 1225 

Were I unbounden, al so moot I thee, 
I wolde nevere eft comen in the snare. 
We wedded men lyve in sorwe and care; 
Assaye who so wole, and he shal fynde 

I seye sooth, by seint Thomas of Ynde 1230 

As for the moore part, I sey nat alle; 
God shilde, that it sholde so bif alle ! 
A, goode Sir Hoost, I have ywedded bee 
Thise monthes two, and moore nat, pardee; 
And yet I trowe, he that al his lyve 1235 

Wyflees hath been, though that men wolde him ryve 
Unto the herte, ne koude in no manere 
Tellen so muchel sorwe as I now heere 
Koude tellen of my wyves cursednesse !" 
Now quod our hoost, "Marchant, so God yow blesse, 1240 


Syn ye so muchel knowen of that art, 
Ful hertely I pray yow telle us part." 
"Gladly," quod he, "but of myn owene soore, 
For soory herte I telle may namoore." 


[January, a rich old dotard, who has married May, in 
spite of his friends' objections to the inequality of their 
ages, is deceived by her and his young squire Damian, 
although Pluto in pity restores his lost sight.] 


The Prologe of the Squieres tale. 

"Ey, Goddes mercy !" seyde oure Hooste tho, 
"Now swich a wyf I pray God kepe me fro ! 2420 

Lo, whiche sleightes and subtilitees 
In wommen been, for ay as bisy as bees 
Been they us sely men for to deceyve ; 
And from a sooth evere wol they weyve, 

By this Marchauntes tale it preveth weel. 2425 

But doutelees, as trewe as any steel, 
I have a wyf, though that she povre be, 
But of hir tonge a labbyng shrewe is she. 
And yet she hath an heep of vices mo 
Ther-of no fors, lat alle swiche thynges go. 2430 

But wyte ye what, in conseil be it seyd, 
Me reweth soore I am unto hire teyd ; 
For and I sholde rekenen every vice, 
Which that she hath, ywis, I were to nyce.. 
And cause why? it sholde reported be, 2435 

And toold to hir of somme of this meynee; 
Of whom, it nedeth nat for to declare, 
Syn wommen konnen outen swich chaff are. 
And eek my wit suffiseth nat therto, 
To tellen al, wherfore my tale is do." 2440 



Squier, come neer, if it your wille be, 
And sey somwhat of love, for certes, ye 
Konnen theron as muche as any man." 
"Nay sir," quod he, "but I wol seye as I kan, 
With hertly wyl, for I wol nat rebelle 
Agayn your lust. A tale wol I telle, 
Have me excused if I speke amys; 
My wyl is good, and lo, my tale is this." 


Heere bigynneth the Squieres Tale. 

At S array, in the land of Tartarye, 

Ther dwelte a kyng, that werreyed Russye, 10 

Thurgh which ther dyde many a doughty man. 
This noble kyng was cleped Cambynskan, 
Which in his tyme was of so greet renoun, 
That ther was nowher in no regioun 

So excellent a lord in alle thyng. 15 

Hym lakked noght that longeth to a kyng ; 
And of the secte, of which that he was born, 
He kepte his lay, to which that he was sworn ; 
And therto he was hardy, wys, and riche, 
Pitous, and just, and everemoore yliche, 20 

Sooth of his word, benigne, and honurable, 
Of his corage as any centre stable, 
Yong, fressh, strong, and in armes desirous 
As any bacheler of al his hous. 

A fair persone he was, and fortunat, 25 

And kepte alwey so wel roial estat 
That ther was nowher swich another man. 
This noble kyng, this Tartre Cambynskan, 
Hadde two sones on Elpheta his wyf, 

Of whiche the eldeste highte Algarsyf, 30 

That oother sone was cleped Cambalo. 
A doghter hadde this worthy kyng also, 
That yongest was, and highte Canacee. 
But for to telle yow al hir beautee, 

It lyth nat in my tonge nyn my konnyng. 35 

I dar nat undertake so heigh a thyng ; 
Myn Englissh eek is insufficient. 
I moste been a rethor excellent, 

20 and pitous; and everemoore alwey. 


That koude hise colours longynge for that art, 

If he sholde hir discryven every part. 40 

I am noon swich ; I moot speke as I kan. 

And so bifel, that whan this Cambynskan 
Hath twenty wynter born his diademe, 
As he was wont fro yeer to yeer, I deme, 
He leet the feeste of his nativitee 45 

Doon cryen thurghout Sarray his citee, 
The last Idus of March after the yeer. 
Phebus the sonne ful joly was and cleer, 
For he was neigh his exaltacioun 

In Martes face, and in his mansioun 50 

In Aries, the colerik hoote signe. 
Ful lusty was the weder, and benigne, 
For which the foweles agayn the sonne sheene, 
What for the sesoun and the yonge grene, 
Ful loude songen hir affecciouns; 55 

Hem semed han geten hem protecciouns 
Agayn the swerd of wynter, keene and coold. 
This Cambynskan, of which I have yow toold, 
In roial vestiment sit on his deys, 
With diademe, ful heighe in his paleys, 
And halt his feeste so solempne and so ryche, 
That in this world ne was ther noon it lyche. 
Of which, if I shal tellen al tharray, 
Thanne wolde it occupie a someres day, 
And eek it nedeth nat for to devyse, 65 

At every cours, the ordre of hire servyse. 
I wol nat tellen of hir strange sewes, 
Ne of hir swannes, nor of hire heronsewes ; 
Eek in that lond, as tellen knyghtes olde, 
Ther is som mete that is ful deynte holde, 70 

That in this lond men recche of it but smal 
Ther nys no man that may reporten al. 
I wol nat taryen yow, for it is pryme, 

46 thurgh. 62 ne om. 


And for it is no fruyt but los of tyme. 

Unto my firste I wole have my recours. 75 

And so bifel, that after the thridde cours 
Whil that this kyng sit thus in his nobleye, 
Herknynge hise mynstrals hir thynges pleye 
Biforn hym at the bord deliciously, 

In at the halle dore al sodeynly 80 

Ther cam a knyght, upon a steede of bras, 
And in his hand a brood mirour of glas, 
Upon his thombe he hadde of gold a ryng, 
And by his syde a naked swerd hangyng. 
And up he rideth to the heighe bord. 85 

In al the hall ne was ther spoken a word 
For merveille of this knyght ; hym to biholde 
Ful bisily ther wayten yonge and olde. 
This strange knyght, that cam thus sodeynly 
Al armed, save his heed, ful richely, 90 

Saleweth kyng, and queene, and lordes alle, 
By ordre, as they seten in the halle, 
With so heigh reverence and obeisaunce, 
As wel in speche as in contenaunce, 

That Gawayn, with his olde curteisye, 95 

Though he were comen ayeyn out of Fairy e, 
Ne koude hym nat amende with a word. 
And after this, biforn the heighe bord 
He with a manly voys seith his message, 
After the forme used in his langage, 100 

Withouten vice of silable or of lettre. 
And for his tale sholde seme the bettre, 
Accordant to hise wordes was his cheere, 
As techeth art of speche hem that it leere. 
Al be it that I kan nat sowne his stile, 105 

Ne kan nat clymben over so heigh a style, 
Yet seye I this, as to commune entente, 
Thus muche amounteth al that evere he mente, 

105 it om. 


If it so be that I have it in mynde. 

He seyde, "The kyng of Arabe and of Inde, 110 

My lige lord, on this solempne day 

Saleweth yow, as he best kan and may; 

And sendeth yow, in honour of your feeste, 

By me, that am al redy at your heeste, 

This steede of bras, that esily and weel 115 

Kan in the space of o day natureel, 

This is to seyn, in foure and twenty houres, 

Wherso yow lyst, in droghte or elles shoures, 

Beren youre body into every place 

To which youre herte wilneth for to pace, 120 

Withouten wem of yow, thurgh foul or fair. 

Or if yow lyst to fleen as hye in the air 

As dooth an egle, whan that hym list to soore, 

This same steede shal bere yow evere moore 

Withouten harm, til ye be ther yow leste, 125 

Though that ye slepen on his bak or reste ; 

And turne ayeyn, with writhyng of a pyn. 

He that it wroghte, koude ful many a gyn; 

He wayted many a constellacioun 

Er he had doon this operacioun; 130 

And knew ful many a seel, and many a bond. 

This mirrour eek, that I have in myn hond, 

Hath swich a myght, that men may in it see 

Whan ther shal fallen any adversitee 

Unto your regne, or to yourself also, 135 

And openly who is your freend, or foo. 

And over al this, if any lady bright 

Hath set hir herte in any maner wight, 

If he be fals, she shal his tresoun see, 

His newe love, and al his subtiltee 140 

So openly, that ther shal no thyng hyde. 

Wherfore, ageyn this lusty someres tyde, 

This mirour and this ryng that ye may see, 

He hath sent unto my lady Canacee, 


Your excellente doghter that is heere. 145 

The vertu of the ryng, if ye wol heere, 

Is this, that if hir lust it for to were 

Upon hir thombe, or in hir purs it here, 

Ther is no fowel that fleeth under the hevene 

That she ne shal wel understonde his stevene, 150 

And knowe his menyng openly and pleyn, 

And answere hym in his langage ageyn. 

And every gras that groweth upon roote, 

She shal eek knowe, and whom it wol do boote, 

Al be hise woundes never so depe and wyde. 155 

This naked swerd, that hangeth by my syde 

Swich vertu hath, that what man so ye smyte 

Thurghout his armure it wole hym kerve and byte, 

Were it as thikke as is a branched ook. 

And what man that is wounded with a strook 160 

Shal never be hool, til that yow list of grace 

To stroke hym with the plate in thilke place 

Ther he is hurt ; this is as muche to seyn, 

Ye moote with the plate swerd ageyn 

Strike hym in the wounde, and it wol close. 16.5 

This is a verray sooth withouten glose. 

It failleth nat, whils it is in youre hoold." 

And whan this knyght hath thus his tale toold, 
He rideth out of halle, and doun he lighte. 
His steede, which that shoon as sonne brighte, 170 

Stant in the court, as stille as any stoon. 
This knyght is to his chambre lad anoon, 
And is unarmed and unto mete yset. 
The presentes been ful roially yfet, 

This is to seyn, the swerd and the mirour, 175 

And born anon into the heighe tour 
With certeine officers ordeyned therfore. 
And unto Canacee this ryng was bore, 
Solempnely, ther she sit at the table. 
162 thilke that. 164 plat. 171 as (l) om. 


But sikerly, withouten any fable, 180 

The hors of bras, that may nat be remewed, 

It stant as it were to the ground yglewed. 

Ther may no man out of the place it dryve, 

For noon engyn of wyndas ne polyve ; 

And cause why, for they kan nat the craft, 185 

And therfore in the place they han it laft. 

Til that the knyght hath taught hem the manere 

To voyden hym, as ye shal after heere. 

Greet was the prees that swarmeth to and fro 

To gauren on this hors, that stondeth so. 190 

For it so heigh was, and so brood, and long, 

So wel propercioned for to been strong, 

Right as it were a steede of Lumbardye ; 

Therwith so horsly and so quyk of eye, 

As it a gentil Poilleys courser were. 195 

For certes, fro his tayl unto his ere, 

Nature ne art ne koude hym nat amende 

In no degree, as al the peple wende. 

But everemoore hir mooste wonder was 

How that it koude go, and was of bras. 200 

It was a f airye, as al the peple semed. 

Diverse folk diversely they demed; 

As many heddes, as manye wittes ther been. 

They murmur eden as dooth a swarm of been, 

And maden skiles after hir fantasies, 205 

Rehersynge of thise olde poetries, 

And seyde that it was lyk the Pegasee, 

The hors that hadde wynges for to flee ; 

Or elles, it was the Grekes hors Synoun, 

That broghte Troie to destruccioun, 210 

As men in thise olde geestes rede. 

"Myn herte," quod oon, "is everemoore in drede. 
I trowe som men of armes been therinne, 
That shapen hem this citee for to wynne 
It were right good that al swich thyng were knowe." 215 


Another rowned to his felawe lowe, 
And seyde, "He lyeth ; it is rather lyk 
An apparence ymaad by som magyk, 
As jogelours pleyen at thise feestes grete." 
Of sondry doutes thus they jangle and trete, 220 

As lewed peple demeth comunly 
Of thynges that been maad moore subtilly 
Than they kan in hir lewednesse comprehende ; 
They demen gladly to the badder ende. 

And somme of hem wondred on the mirour 225 

That born was up into the maister tour 
How men myghte in it swiche thynges se. 
Another answerde, and seyde, "It myghte wel be 
Naturelly by composiciouns 

Of anglis and of slye reflexiouns ;" 230 

And seyden, that in Rome was swich oon. 
They speken of Alocen and Vitulon, 
And Aristotle, that writen in hir lyves 
Of queynte mirours and of perspectives, 

As knowen they that han hir bookes herd. 235 

And oother folk han wondred on the swerd, 
That wolde percen thurgh out every thyng; 
And fille in speche of Thelophus the kyng 
And of Achilles with his queynte spere, 
For he koude with it bothe heele and dere, 240 

Right in swich wise as men may with the swerd, 
Of which right now ye han yourselven herd. 
They speken of sondry hardyng of metal, 
And speke of medicynes therwithal, 

And how and whanne it sholde yharded be, 245 

Which is unknowe, algates unto me. 
Tho speeke they of Canacees ryng, 
And seyden alle, that swich a wonder thyng 
Of craft of rynges herde they nevere noon; 
Save that he Moyses, and kyng Salomon 250 

226 maister hye. 


Hadde a name of konnyng in swich art. 

Thus seyn the peple, and drawen hem apart. 

But nathelees, somme seiden that it was 
Wonder to maken of fern asshen glas, 

And yet nys glas nat lyk asshen of fern; 255 

But for they han knowen it so fern, 
Therf ore cesseth hir j anglyng and hir wonder. 
As score wondren somme on cause of thonder, 
On ebbe, on flood, on gossomer, and on myst, 
And alle thyng, til that the cause is wyst. 260 

Thus jangle they, and demen, and devyse, 
Til that the kyng gan fro the bord aryse. 
Phebus hath laft the angle meridional, 
And yet ascendynge was the beest roial, 

The gentil Leoun, with his Aldrian, 265 

Whan that this Tartre kyng, this Cambynskan 
Roos fro his bord, ther that he sat ful hye. 
Toforn hym gooth the loude mynstralcye 
Til he cam to his chambre of parementz, 
Ther as they sownen diverse intrumentz 270 

That it is lyk an hevene for to heere. 
Now dauncen lusty Venus children deere, 
For in the Fyssh hir lady sat ful hye, 
And looketh on hem with a f reendly eye. 
This noble kyng is set up in his trone ; 275 

This strange knyght is fet to hym ful soone, 
And on the daunce he gooth with Canacee. 
Heere is the revel and the jolitee 
That is nat able a dul man to devyse ; 

He moste han knowen love and his servyse, 280 

And been a feestlych man as fressh as May, 
That sholde yow devysen swich array. 
WTio koude telle yow the forme of daunces, 
So unkouthe and so fresshe contenaunces, 
Swich subtil lookyng and dissymulynges, 28 i 

260 And on. 266 this (2) om. 


For drede of jalouse mennes apercey vynges ? 

No man but Launcelet, and -he is deed. 

Therf ore I passe of al this lustiheed ; 

I sey namoore, but in this jolynesse 

I lete hem, til men to the soper dresse. 290 

The styward bit the spices for to hye, 
And eek the wyn, in al this melodye ; 
The usshers and the squiers been ygoon, 
The spices and the wyn is come anoon, 

They ete and drynke, and whan this hadde an ende, 295 
Unto the temple, as reson was, they wende. 
The service doon, they soupen al by day; 
What nedeth me rehercen hir array? 
Ech man woot wel, that at a kynges feeste 
Hath plentee, to the mooste and to the leeste, 300 

And deyntees mo than been in my knowyng. 
At after soper gooth this noble kyng, 
To seen this hors of bras, with al the route 
Of lordes, and of ladyes hyin aboute. 

Swich wondryng was ther on this hors of bras, 305 

That syn the grete sege of Troie was, 
Ther as men wondreden on an hors also, 
Ne was ther swich a wondryng as was tho. 
But fynally, the kyng axeth this knyght 
The vertu of this courser, and the myght; 310 

And preyde hym to telle his governaunce. 
This hors anoon bigan to trippe and daunce, 
Whan that this knyght leyde hand upon his reyne, 
And seyde, "Sire, ther is namoore to seyne, 
But whan yow list to ryden any where, 315 

Ye mooten trille a pyn, stant in his ere, 
Which I shal telle yow bitwix us two. 
Ye moote nempne hym to what place also, 
Or to what contree, that yow list to ryde, 
And whan ye come ther as yow list abyde, 320 

291 the om. 299 at om. 317 yow telle. 


Bidde hym descende, and trille another pyn, 

(For therin lith thefFect of al the gyn) 

And he wol doun descende, and doon youre wille. 

And in that place he wol stonde stille, 

Though al the world the contrarie hadde yswore; 325 

He shal nat thennes been ydrawe ne ybore. 

Or, if yow liste, bidde hym thennes goon, 

Trille this pyn, and he wol vanysshe anoon 

Out of the sighte of every maner wight, 

And come agayn, be it day or nyght, 330 

Whan that yow list to clepen hym ageyn, 

In swich a gyse as I shal to yow seyn, 

Bitwixe yow and me, and that ful soone. 

Ride whan yow list ; ther is namoore to doone." 

Enformed whan the kyng was of that knyght, 335 

And hath conceyved in his wit aright 

The manere and the forme of al this thyng, 

Thus glad and blithe this noble doughty kyng 

Repeireth to his revel as biforn. 

The brydel is unto the tour yborn, 340 

And kept among hise jueles, leeve and deere. 

The hors vanysshed, I noot in what manere, 

Out of hir sighte; ye gete namoore of me. 

But thus I lete in lust and jolitee 

This Cambynskan, hise lordes festeiynge, 345 

Til wel ny the day bigan to sprynge. 

Explicit prima pars. 
Sequitur pars secunda. 

The norice of digestioun, the sleepe, 
Gan on hem wynke, and bad hem taken keepe, 
That muchel drynke and labour wolde han reste ; 
And with a galpyng mouth hem alle he keste, 350 

822 in om. 326 nor. 327 list. 338 doughty om. 


And seyde, "It was tyme to lye adoun, 

For blood was in his domynacioun. 

Cherisseth blood, natures freend/' quod he. 

They thanken hym, galpynge, by two, by thre, 

And every wight gan drawe hym to his reste, 355 

As sleep hem bad ; they tooke it for the beste. 

Hir dremes shul nat been ytoold for me ; 

Ful were hir heddes of fumositee, 

That causeth dreem, of which ther nys no charge. 

They slepen til that it was pryme large, 360 

The mooste part, but it were Canacee; 

She was ful mesurable, as wommen be. 

For of hir fader hadde she take leve 

To goon to reste, soone after it was eve. 

Hir liste nat appalled for to be, 365 

Ne on the morwe unfeestlich for to se: 

And slepte hir firste sleepe, and thanne awook ; 

For swich a joye she in hir herte took, 

Bothe of hir queynte ryng and hire mirour, 

That twenty tyme she changed hir colour, 370 

And in hir sleep right for impressioun 

Of hir mirour she hadde a visioun. 

Wherfore, er that the sonne gan up glyde, 

She cleped on hir maistresse, hir bisyde, 

And seyde, that hir liste for to ryse. 375 

Thise olde wommen that been gladly wyse, 

As hir maistresse answerde hir anon, 

And seyde, "Madame, whider wil ye goon 

Thus erly, for the folk been alle on reste ?" 

"I wol," quod she, "arise, for me leste 380 

No lenger for to slepe ; and walke aboute." 

Hir maistresse clepeth wommen a greet route, 

And up they rysen wel an ten or twelve. 

Up riseth fresshe Canacee hirselve, 

As rody and bright as dooth the yonge sonne, 385 

That in the Ram is foure degrees upronne, 



Noon hyer was he, whan she redy was; 
And forth she walketh esily a pas, 
Arrayed after the lusty sesoun soote, 
Lightly for to pleye and walke on foote, 
Nat but with fyve or sixe of Mr meynee; 
And in a trench forth in the park gooth she. 

The vapour, which that fro the erthe glood, 
Made the sonne to seme rody and brood; 
But nathelees, it was so fair a sighte 
That it made alle hir hertes for to lighte, 
What for the sesoun and the morwenynge, 
And for the foweles that she herde synge; 
For right anon she wiste what they mente 
Right by hir song, and knew al hir entente. 
The knotte, why that every tale is toold, 
If it be taried til that lust be coold 
Of hem that han it after herkned yoore, 
The savour passeth ever lenger the moore, 
For fulsomnesse of his prolixitee; 
And by the same resoun thynketh me, 
I sholde to the knotte condescende, 
And maken of hir walkyng soone an ende. 
Amydde a tree fordryed, as whit as chalk, 
As Canacee was pleyyng in hir walk, 
Ther sat a faucon over hir heed ful hye, 
That with a pitous voys so gan to crye 
That all the wode resouned of hir cry. 
Ybeten hath she hirself so pitously 
With bothe hir wynges, til the rede blood 
Ran endelong the tree ther as she stood, 
And evere in oon she cryde alwey and shrighte, 
And with hir beek hirselven so she prighte, 
That ther nys tygre, ne noon so crueel beest 
That dwelleth outher in wode or in forest 
That nolde han wept, if that he wepe koude 
416 as om. 421 he she. 








For sorwe of hir, she shrighte alwey so loude. 

For ther nas nevere yet no man on lyve 

(If that I koude a faucon wel discryve), 

That herde of swich another of fairnesse, 425 

As wel of plumage as of gentillesse 

Of shape and al that myghte yrekened be. 

A faucon peregryn thanne semed she 

Of fremde land, and everemoore as she stood 

She swowneth now and now for lakke of blood, 430 

Til wel neigh is she fallen fro the tree. 

This faire kynges doghter Canacee, 

That on hir fynger baar the queynte ryng, 

Thurgh which she understood wel every thyng 

That any fowel may in his leden seyn, 435 

And koude answeren hym in his ledene ageyn, 

Hath understonde what this faucoun seyde, 

And wel neigh for the routhe almoost she deyde. 

And to the tree she gooth ful hastily, 

And on this faukoun looketh pitously, 440 

And heeld hir lappe abrood, for wel she wiste 

The faukon moste fallen fro the twiste, 

Whan that it swowned next, for lakke of blood. 

A longe while to wayten hir she stood, 

Til atte laste she spak in this manere 445 

Unto the hauk, as ye shal after heere. 

"What is the cause, if it be for to telle, 
That ye be in this furial pyne of helle?" 
Quod Canacee unto the hauk above, 

"Is this for sorwe of deeth, or los of love? 450 

For, as I trowe, thise been causes two 
That causeth moost a gentil herte wo. 
Of oother harm it nedeth nat to speke, 
For ye yourself upon yourself yow wreke, 
Which proveth wel, that outher love or drede 455 

Moot been enchesoun of your cruel dede, 
428 man yet 



Syn that I see noon oother wight yow chace. 

For love of God as dooth yourselven grace, 

Or what may been your helpe ? for west nOL 1 est 

Ne saugh I nevere er now no bryd ne beest 460 

That ferde with hymself so pitously. 

Ye sle me with your sorwe, verraily, 

I have of yow so greet compassioun. 

For Goddes love com fro the tree adoun, 

And as I am a kynges doghter trewe, 465 

If that I verraily the cause knewe 

Of your disese, if it lay in my myght 

I wolde amenden it er that it were nyght, 

As wisly helpe me, grete god of kynde ! 

And herbes shal I right ynowe yfynde, 470 

To heele with youre hurtes hastily." 

Tho shrighte this faucoun moore yet pitously 
Than ever she dide, and fil to grounde anon 
And lith aswowne, deed, and lyk a stoon, 
Til Canacee hath in hir lappe hir take 475 

Unto the tyme she gan of swough awake. 
And after that she of hir swough gan breyde, 
Bight in hir haukes ledene thus she seyde: 
"That pitee renneth soone in gentil herte, 
Feelynge his similitude in peynes smerte, 480 

Is preved al day, as men may it see, 
As wel by werk as by auctoritee. 
For gentil herte kitheth gentillesse. 
I se wel, that ye han of my distresse 

Compassioun, my faire Canacee, 485 

Of verray wommanly benignytee 
That nature in youre principles hath set. 
But for noon hope for to fare the bet, 
But for to obeye unto youre herte free, 
And for to maken othere be war by me, 
As by the whelp chasted is the leoun, 

468 passioun. 469 the grete. 481 it om. 487 yset- 489 to om. 


Right for that cause and that conclusioun 

Whil that I have a leyser and a space, 

Myn harm I wol confessen, er I pace." 

And evere whil that oon hir sorwe tolde, 4Q5 

That oother weep, as she to water wolde, 

Til that the faucoun bad hire to be stille; 

And with a syk right thus she seyde hir wille. 

"Ther I was bred, alias, that harde day ! 

And fostred in a roche of marbul gray 500 

So tendrely, that no thyng eyled me ; 

I nyste nat what was adversitee, 

Til I koude flee ful hye under the sky. 

Tho dwelte a tercelet me faste by 

That semed welle of alle gentillesse, 505 

Al were he ful of tresoun and falsnesse; 

It was so wrapped under humble cheere, 

And under hewe of trouthe in swich manere, 

Under plesance, and under bisy peyne, 

That I ne koude han wend he koude feyne, 510 

So depe in greyn he dyed his colours. 

Right as a serpent hit hym under floures 

Til he may seen his tyme for to byte, 

Right so this god of love, this ypocryte, 

Dooth so hise cerymonyes and obeisaunces, 515 

And kepeth in semblant alle hise observaunces 

That sowneth into gentillesse of love. 

As in a toumbe is al the faire above, 

And under is the corps swich as ye woot, 

Swich was this ypocrite, bothe coold and hoot; 520 

And in this wise he served his entente, 

That save the feend noon wiste what he mente; 

Til he so longe hadde wopen and compleyned, 

And many a yeer his service to me feyned, 

Til that myn herte, to pitous and to nyce, 525 

Al innocent of his corouned malice, 

409 Ther that. 520 the. 



For-fered of his deeth, as thoughte me, 

Upon hise othes and his seuretee, 

Graunted hym love up this condicioun 

That everemoore myn honour and renoun 530 

Were saved, bothe privee and apert. 

This is to seyn, that after his desert 

I yaf hym al myn herte and al my thoght 

God woot and he, that otherwise noght ! 

And took his herte in chaunge for myn for ay. . 535 

But sooth is seyd, goon sithen many a day, 

'A trewe wight and a theef thenken nat oon.' 

And whan he saugh the thyng so fer ygoon, 

That I hadde graunted hym fully my love, 

In swich a gyse as I have seyd above, 540 

And yeven hym my trewe herte, as free 

As he swoor he his herte yaf to me, 

Anon this tigre ful of doublenesse 

Fil on hise knees, with so devout humblesse, 

With so heigh reverence, and as by his cheere 545 

So lyk a gentil lovere of manere, 

So ravysshed, as it semed, for the joye, 

That nevere Jason, ne Parys of Troye, 

Jason? certes, ne noon oother man 

Syn Lameth was, that alderfirst bigan 550 

To loven two, as writen folk biforn, 

Ne nevere syn the firste man was born, 

Ne koude man, by twenty thousand part, 

Countrefete the sophymes of his art; 

Ne were worthy unbokelen his galoche, 555 

Ther doublenesse or feynyng sholde approche, 

Ne so koude thonke a wight as he dide me. 

His manere was an hevene for to see 

Til any womman, were she never so wys ; 

So peynted he and kembde at point-devys 

As wel hise wordes as his contenaunce 

529 upon. 533 al (2) om. 542 yaf his herte. 548 Jason Troilus. 


And I so loved hym for his obeisaunce 
And for the trouthe I denied in his herte, 
That if so were that any thyng hym smerte, 
Al were it never so lite, and I it wiste, 565 

Me thoughte I felte deeth myn herte twiste. 
And shortly so ferforth this thyng is went, 
That my wyl was his willes instrument; 
This is to seyn, my wyl obeyed his wyl 

In alle thyng as fer as resoun fil, 570 

Kepynge the boundes of my worship evere. 
Ne nevere hadde I thyng so lief, ne levere, 
As hym, God woot ! ne nevere shal namo. 
This lasteth lenger than a yeer or two, 

That I supposed of hym noght but good. 575 

But finally, thus atte laste it stood, 
That Fortune wolde that he moste twynne 
Out of that place, which that I was inne. 
Wher me was wo that is no questio^n ; 

I kan nat make of it discripJoun. 580 

For o thyng dare I tellen boldely, 
I knowe what is the peyne of deeth therby. 
Swich harme I felte, for he ne myghte bileve; 
So on a day of me he took his leve 

So sorwefully eek, that I wende verraily, 585 

That he had felt as muche harm as I, 
Whan that I herde hym speke, and saugh his hewe. 
But nathelees, I thoughte he was so trewe, 
And eek that he repaire sholde ageyn 

Withinne a litel while, sooth to seyn, 590 

And resoun wolde eek that he moste go 
For his honour, as ofte it happeth so, 
That I made vertu of necessitee, 
And took it wel, syn that it moste be. 

As I best myghte, I hidde fro hym my sorwe, 595 

And took hym by the hond, seint John to borwe, 
And seyde hym thus, 'Lo I am youres al. 


Beth swich as I to yow have been, and shal.' 

What he answerde, it nedeth noght reherce, 

Who kan sey bet than he ? who kan do werse ? 600 

Whan he hath al wel seyd, thanne hath he doon; 

'Therfore bihoveth hire a ful long spoon 

That shal ete with a feend,' thus herde I seye. 

So atte laste he moste forth his weye, 

And forth he fleeth, til he cam ther hym leste. 605 

Whan it cam hym to purpos for to reste, 

I trowe he hadde thilke text in mynde 

That 'alle thyng repeirynge to his kynde 

Gladeth hymself ;' thus seyn men, as I gesse. 

Men loven of propre kynde newefangelnesse, 610 

As briddes doon, that men in cages fede, 

For though thou nyght and day take of hem hede, 

And strawe hir cage faire and softe as silk, 

And yeve hem sugre, hony,- breed, and milk, 

Yet right anon as that his dore is uppe, 615 

He with his feet wol spume adoun his cuppe, 

And to the wode he wole and wormes ete; 

So newefangel been they of hir mete, 

And loven novelrie of propre kynde. 

No gentillesse of blood ne may hem bynde. 620 

So f erde this tercelet, alias, the day ! 
Though he were gentil born, and f ressh, and gay, 
And goodlich for to seen, humble and free, 
He saugh upon a tyme a kyte flee, 

And sodeynly he loved this kyte so 625 

That al his love is clene fro me ago, 
And hath his trouthe falsed in this wyse. 
Thus hath the kyte my love in hire servyse, 
And I am lorn withouten remedie." 
And with that word this faucoun gan to crie, 
And swowned eft in Canacees barm. 

Greet was the sorwe for the haukes harm 
601 wel om. 620 ne om. 622 and (l) om. 


That Canacee and alle hir wommen made. 

They nyste hou they myghte the faucoun glade; 

But Canacee horn bereth hir in hir lappe, 635 

And softely in piastres gan hir wrappe, 

Ther as she with hir beek hadde hurt hirselve. 

Now kan nat Canacee but herbes delve 

Out of the ground, and make saves newe 

Of herbes preciouse and fyne of hewe, 640 

To heelen with this hauk ; fro day to nyght 

She dooth hir bisynesse and al hir myght. 

And by hir beddes heed she made a mewe, 

And covered it with veluettes blewe, 

In signe of trouthe that is in wommen sene. 645 

And al withoute, the mewe is peynted grene, 

In which were ypeynted alle thise false fowles, 

As beth thise tidyves, tercelettes, and owles, 

Right for despit were peynted hem bisyde, 

And pyes on hem for to crie and chyde. 650 

Thus lete I Canacee hir hauk kepyng; 

I wol namoore as now speke of hir ryng, 

Til it come eft to purpos for to seyn 

How that this faucoun gat hire love ageyn 

Repentant, as the storie telleth us, 655 

By mediacioun of Cambalus, 

The kynges sone, of which that I yow tolde. 

But hennesforth I wol my proces holde 
To speken of aventures and of batailles, 
That nevere yet was herd so grete mervailles. 660 

First wol I telle yow of Cambynskan, 
That in his tyme many a citee wan ; 
And after wol I speke of Algarsif, 
How that he wan Theodora to his wif , 

For whom ful ofte in greet peril he was, 665 

Ne hadde he be holpen by the steede of bras ; 
And after wol I speke of Cambalo 

641 hauk om. 642 al hire hire fulle. 647 ther were. 657 -that om. 



That faught in lystes with the bretheren two 
For Canacee, er that he myghte hir wynne. 
And ther I lefte, I wol ayeyn bigynne. 

Explicit secunda pars. 
Incipit pars tercia. 

Appollo whirleth up his chaar so hye 

Til that the god Mercurius hous, the slye 

670 An. 




Heere folwen the wordes of the Frankelyn to the Squier, 
and the wordes of the hoost to the Frankelyn. 

"In feith, Squier, thow hast thee wel yquit, 
And gentilly I preise wel thy wit/' 

Quod the Frankeleyn, "considerynge thy yowthe, 675 

So f eelyngly thou spekest, sire, I allow the ; 
As to my doom, ther is noon that is heere 
Of eloquence that shal be thy peere, 
If that thou lyve God yeve thee good chaunce, 
And in vertu sende thee continuance ! 680 

For of thy speche I have greet deyntee ; 
I have a sone, and, by the Trinitee, 
I hadde levere than twenty pound worth lond, 
Though it right now were fallen in myn hond, 
He were a man of swich discrecioun 685 

As that ye been ; fy on possessioun 
But if a man be vertuous withal ! 
I have my sone snybbed, and yet shal, 
For he to vertu listneth nat entende, 

But for to pleye at dees, and to despende 690 

And lese al that he hath, is his usage. 
And he hath levere talken with a page 
Than to comune with any gentil wight 
There he myghte lerne gentillesse aright." 
"Straw for youre gentillesse," quod our Hoost. 695 

What, Frankeleyn, pardee ! sire, wel thou woost 
That ech of yow moot tellen atte leste 
A tale or two, or breken his biheste.' 
"That knowe I wel, sire," quod the Frankeleyn, 
I prey yow, haveth me nat in desdeyn 700 


Though to this man I speke a word or two." 

"Telle on thy tale, withouten wordes mo." 

"Glady, sire Hoost," quod he, "I wole obeye 

Unto your wyl; now herkneth what I seye. 

I wol yow nat contrarien in no wyse 705 

As f er as that my wittes wol suffyse ; 

I prey to God that it may plesen yow, 

Thanne woot I wel that it is good ynow." 


The Prologe of the Frankeleyns tale. 

Thise olde gentil Britouns in hir dayes 

Of diverse aventures maden layes, 710 

Rymeyed in hir firste Briton tonge; 

Whiche layes with hir instrumentz they songe, 

Or elles redden hem, for hir plesaunce. 

And oon of hem have I in remembraunce, 

Which I shal seyn, with good-wyl, as I kan. 715 

But sires, by cause I am a burel man, 

At my bigynnyng first I yow biseche, 

Have me excused of my rude speche. 

I lerned nevere rethorik, certeyn; 

Thyng that I speke, it moot be bare and pleyn. 720 

I sleep nevere on the Mount of Parnaso, 

Ne lerned Marcus Tullius Scithero. 

Colours ne knowe I none, withouten drede, 

But swiche colours as growen in the mede, 

Or elles swiche, as men dye or peynte. 725 

Colours of rethoryk been me to queynte, 

My spirit f eeleth noght of swich mateere ; 

But if yow list, my tale shul ye heere. 

Heere bigynneth the Frankeleyns tale. 

In Armor ik, that called is Britayne, 

Ther was a knyght that loved and dide his payne 730 

To serve a lady in his beste wise ; 

And many a labour, many a greet emprise, 

He for his lady wroghte, er she were wonne. 

726 me om. 


For she was oon the faireste under sonne, 

And eek therto comen of so heigh kynrede 735 

That wel unnethes dorste this knyght for drede 

Telle hir his wo, his peyne, and his distresse. 

But atte laste, she for his worthynesse, 

And namely for his meke obeysaunce, 

Hath swiche a pitee caught of his penaunce, 740 

That pryvely she fil of his accord 

To take hym for hir housbonde and hir lord 

Of swich lordshipe as men han over hir wyves 

And for to lede the moore in blisse hir lyves, 

Of his free wyl he swoor hir as a knyght, 745 

That nevere in al his lyf he, day ne nyght, 

Ne sholde upon hym take no maistrie 

Agayn hir wyl, ne kithe hir jalousie, 

But hir obeye and folwe hir wyl in al 

As any lovere to his lady shal; 750 

Save that the name of soveraynetee, 

That wolde he have, for shame of his degree. 

She thanked hym, and with ful greet humblesse 

She seyde, "Sire, sith of youre gentillesse 

Ye prof re me to ha\e so large a reyne, 755 

Ne wolde nevere God bitwixe us tweyne, 

As in my gilt, were outher werre or stryf. 

Sir, I wol be your humble trewe wyf, 

Have heer my trouthe til that myn herte breste." 

Thus been they bothe in quiete and in reste. 760 

For o thyng, sires, saufly dar I seye, 

That freendes everych oother moot obeye, 

If they wol longe holden compaignye. 

Love wol nat been constreyned by maistrye; 

Whan maistrie comth, the God of Love anon 765 

Beteth hise wynges, and farewel, he is gon ! 

Love is a thyng as any spirit free. 

Wommen of kynde desiren libertee, 

And nat to been constreyned as a thral 


And so doon men, if I sooth seyen shal. 770 

Looke who that is moost pacient in love, 

He is at his avantage al above. 

Pacience is an heigh vertu, certeyn, 

For it venquysseth, as thise clerkes seyn, 

Thynges that rigour sholde nevere atteyne. 775 

For every word men may nat chide or pleyne, 

Lerneth to suffre, or elles, so moot I goon, 

Ye shul it lerne, wherso ye wole or noon. 

For in this world, certein, ther no wight is 

That he ne dooth or seith som tyme amys. 780 

Ire, siknesse, or constellacioun 

Wyn, wo, or chaungynge of complexioun 

Causeth ful ofte to doon amys or speken. 

On every wrong a man may nat be wreken; 

After the tyme moste be temperaunce 785 

To every wight that kan on governaunce. 

And therfore hath this wise worthy knyght, 

To lyve in ese, suffrance hir bihight, 

And she to hym ful wisly gan to swere 

That nevere sholde ther be defaute in here. 790 

Heere may men seen an humble wys accord ! 

Thus hath she take hir servant and hir lord, 

Servant in love, and lord in mariage ; 

Thanne was he bothe in lordship and servage 

Servage? nay but in lordshipe above, 795 

Sith he hath bothe his lady and his love 

His lady, certes, and his wyf also, 

The which that lawe of love acordeth to. 

And whan he was in this prosperitee, 

Hoom with his wyf he gooth to his contree, 800 

Nat fer fro Pedmark, ther his dwellyng was, 
Where as he lyveth in blisse and in solas. 
Who koude telle, but he hadde wedded be, 
The joye, the ese, and the prosperitee 
That is bitwixe an housbonde and his wyf? 805 


A yeer and moore lasted this blisful lyf, 

Til that the knyght of which I speke of thus, 

That of Kayrrud was cleped Arveragus, 

Shoop hym to goon, and dwelle a yeer or tweyne, 

In Engelond, that cleped was eek Briteyne, 810 

To seke in armes worship and honour 

For al his lust he sette in swich labour 

And dwelled there two yeer, the book seith thus. 

Now wol I stynten of this Arveragus 

And speken I wole of Dorigene his wyf, 815 

That loveth hir housbonde as hir hertes lyf. 

For his absence wepeth she and siketh, 

As doon thise noble wyves whan hem liketh. 

She moorneth, waketh, wayleth, fasteth, pleyneth, 

Desir of his presence hir so destreyneth, 820 

That al this wyde world she sette at nogh*-.. 

Hir freendes whiche that knewe hir hevy thoght, 

Conforten hir in al that ever they may. 

They prechen hir, they telle hir nyght and day 

That causelees she sleeth hirself , alias ! 825 

And every confort possible in this cas 

They doon to hir, with all hir bisynesse, 

Al for to make hir leve hir hevynesse. 

By proces, as ye knowen everichoon, 

Men may so longe graven in a stoon, 830 

Til som figure therinne emprented be. 

So longe han they conforted hir, til she 

Receyved hath by hope and by resoun 

The emprentyng of hir consolacioun, 

Thurgh which hir grete sorwe gan aswage; 835 

She may nat alwey duren in swich rage. 

And eek Arveragus, in al this care, 

Hath sent hir lettres hoom of his welfare, 

And that he wol come hastily agayn, 

Or elles hadde this sorwe hir herte slayn. 840 

Hir freendes sawe hir sorwe gan to slake, 


And preyden hir on knees, for Goddes sake, 

To come and romen hir in compaignye, 

Awey to dryve hir derke fantasye. 

And finally she graunted that requeste, 845 

For wel she saugh that it was for the beste. 

Now stood hir castel faste by the see; 
And often with hir freendes walketh shee 
Hir to disporte, upon the bank an heigh, 
Where as she many a ship and barge seigh 850 

Seillynge hir cours, where as hem liste go. 
But thanne was that a parcel of hir wo, 
For to hirself ful ofte "alias/' seith she, 
'Is ther no ship of so many as I se 

Wol bryngen horn my lord? thanne were myn herte 855 

Al warisshed of hise bittre peynes smerte." 
Another tyme ther wolde she sitte and thynke 
And caste hir eyen dounward fro the brynke ; 
But whan she saugh the grisly rokkes blake, 
For verray feere, so wolde hir herte quake 860 

That on hir feet she myghte hir noght sustene. 
Thanne wolde she sitte adoun upon the grene, 
And pitously into the see biholde, 
And seyn right thus, with sorwef ul sikes colde : 
"Eterne God, that thurgh thy purveiaunce 865 

Ledest the world by certein governaunce, 
In ydel, as men seyn, ye no thyng make. 
But, lord, thise grisly feendly rokkes blake, 
That semen rather a foul confusioun 

Of werk, than any fair creacioun 870 

Of swich a parfit wys God and a stable, 
Why han ye wroght this werk unresonable ? 
For by this werk, south, north, ne west ne eest 
Ther nys yfostred man, ne bryd, ne beest. 
It dooth no good, to my wit, but anoyeth, 875 

Se ye nat, lord, how mankynde it destroy eth ? 

842 preyde. 


An hundred thousand bodyes of mankynde 

Han rokkes slayn, al be they nat in mynde ; 

Which mankynde is so fair part of thy werk 

That thou it madest lyk to thyn owene merk. 880 

Thanne semed it ye hadde a greet chiertee 

Toward mankynde ; but how thanne may it bee 

That ye swiche meenes make it to destroyen, 

Whiche meenes do no good, but evere anoyen? 

I woot wel clerkes wol seyn, as hem leste, 885 

By argumentz, that al is for the beste, 

Though I ne kan the causes nat yknowe, 

But thilke God, that made wynd to blowe, 

As kepe my lord; this my conclusioun. 

To clerkes lete I al this disputisoun 890 

But wolde God, that alle thise rokkes blake, 

Were sonken into helle for his sake ! 

Thise rokkes sleen myn herte for the feere !" 

Thus wolde she seyn, with many a pitous teere. 

Hir freendes sawe that it was no disport 895 

To romen by the see, but disconfort, 

And shopen for to pleyen somwher elles ; 

They leden hir by ryveres and by welles, 

And eek in othere places delitables, 

They dauncen, and they pleyen at ches and tables. 900 

So on a day, right in the morwe tyde, 
Unto a gardyn that was ther bisyde, 
In which that they hadde maad hir ordinaunce 
Of vitaille and of oother purveiaunce, 

They goon and pleye hem al the longe day. 905 

And this was in the sixte morwe of May, 
Which May hadde peynted with his softe shoures 
This gardyn ful of leves and of floures, 
And craft of mannes hand so curiously 

Arrayed hadde this gardyn trewely, 910 

That nevere was ther gardyn of swich prys 

887 ne om. 


But if it were the verray Paradys. 

The odour of floures and the fresshe sighte 

Wolde han maked any herte lighte 

That evere was born, but if to greet siknesse 915 

Or to greet sorwe helde it in distresse; 

So ful it was of beautee with plesaunce. 

At after dyner gonne they to daunce 

And synge also, save Dorigen allone, 

Which made alwey hir compleint and hir moone 920 

For she ne saugh hym on the daunce go 

That was hir housbonde, and hir love also. 

But nathelees she moste a tyme abyde, 

And with good hope lete hir sorwe slyde. 

Upon this daunce, amonges othere men, 925 

Daunced a squier biforn Dorigen 
That fressher was, and jolyer of array, 
As to my doom, than is the monthe of May. 
He syngeth, daunceth, passynge any man 
That is or was, sith that the world bigan. 930 

Therwith he was, if men sholde hym discryve, 
Oon of the beste f arynge man on lyve ; 
Yong, strong, right vertuous, and riche, and wys, 
And wel biloved, and holden in greet prys. 
And shortly, if the sothe I tellen shal, 935 

Unwityng of this Dorigen at al, 
This lusty squier, servant to Venus, 
Which that ycleped was Aurelius, 
Hadde loved hir best of any creature 

Two yeer and moore, as was his aventure ; 940 

But nevere dorste he tellen hir his grevaunce, 
Withouten coppe he drank al his penaunce. 
He was despeyred, no thyng dorste he seye 
Save in his songes somwhat wolde, he wreye 
His wo, as in a general compleynyng. 94>5 

He seyde he lovede, and was biloved no thyng, 
Of swich matere made he manye layes, 


Songes, compleintes, roundels, virelayes, 
How that he dorste nat his sorwe telle, 

But langwissheth, as a furye dooth in helle, 950 

And dye he moste, he seyde, as dide Ekko 
For Narcisus, that dorste nat telle hir wo. 
In oother manere than ye heere me seye, 
Ne dorste he nat to hir his wo biwreye, 

Save that paraventure som tyme at daunces, 955 

Ther yonge folk kepen hir observaunces, 
It may wel be he looked on hir face, 
In swich a wise as man that asketh grace ; 
But no thyng wiste she of his entente. 

Nathelees it happed, er they thennes wente, 960 

By cause that he was hir neighebour, 
And was a man of worship and honour, 
And hadde yknowen hym of tyme yoore, 
They fille in speche, and forthe moore and moore 
Unto this purpos drough Aurelius. 965 

And whan he saugh his tyme, he seyde thus : 
"Madame," quod he, "by God that this world made, 
So that I wiste it myghte your herte glade, 
I wolde that day that youre Arveragus 

Wente over the see, that I, Aurelius, 970 

Hadde went ther nevere I sholde have come agayn. 
For wel I woot my servyce is in vayn, 
My gerdoun is but brestyng of myn herte. 
Madame, reweth upon my peynes smerte, 
For with a word ye may me sleen or save. 975 

Heere at your feet, God wolde that I were grave, 
I ne have as now no leyser moore to seye, 
Have mercy, sweete, or ye wol do me deye." 
She gan to looke upon Aurelius : 

"Is this youre wyl!" quod she, "and sey ye thus? 980 

"Nevere erst," quod she, "ne wiste I what ye mente. 
But now, Aurelie, I knowe youre entente. 
956 yong. 


By thilke God, that yaf me soule and lyf, 

Ne shal I nevere been untrewe wyf, 

In word ne werk, as fer as I have wit. 985 

I wol been his to whom that I am knyt. 

Taak this for fynal answere as of me." 

But after that, in pley thus seyde she, 

"Aurelie," quod she, "by heighe God above, 

Yet wolde I graunte yow to been youre love, 990 

Syn I yow se so pitously complayne. 

Looke, what day that endelong Britayne 

Ye remoeve alle the rokkes, stoon by stoon, 

That they ne lette shipe ne boot to goon, 

I seye, whan ye han maad the coost so clene 995 

Of rokkes that ther nys no stoon ysene, 

Thanne wol I love yow best of any man ! 

Have heer my trouthe in al that evere I kan." 

"Is ther noon oother grace in yow ?" quod he. 

"No, by that lord," quod she, "that maked me; 1000 

For wel I woot that it shal never bityde ; 

Lat swiche folies out of your herte slyde. 

What deyntee sholde a man han in his lyf 

For to go love another mannes wyf, 

That hath hir body whan so that hym liketh?" 1005 

Aurelius ful ofte soore siketh, 

Wo was Aurelie, whan that he this herde, 

And with a sorweful herte he thus answerde. 

"Madame," quod he, "this were an inpossible; 

Thanne moot I dye of sodeyn deth horrible." 1 010 

And with that word he turned hym anon. 

Tho coome hir othere f reendes many oon, 

And in the aleyes romeden up and doun, 

And no thyng wiste of this conclusioun, 

But sodeynly bigonne revel newe, 1015 

Til that the brighte sonne loste his hewe, 

For thorisonte hath reft the sonne his lyght 

This is as muche to seye as, it was nyght 


And hoom they goon in j oye and in solas, 

Save oonly wrecche Aurelius, alias! 1020 

He to his hous is goon with sorweful herte; 

He seeth he may nat fro his deeth asterte ; 

Hym semed that he felte his herte colde; 

Up to the hevene hise handes he gan holde, 

And on hise knowes bare he sette hym doun, 1025 

And in his ravyng seyde his orisoun. 

For verray wo out of his wit he breyde ; 

He nyste what he spak, but thus he seyde : 

With pitous herte his pleynt hath he bigonne 

Unto the goddes, and first unto the sonne 1030 

He seyde, "Appollo, God and governour 

Of every plaunte, herbe, tree, and flour 

That yevest after thy declinacioun 

To ech of hem his tyme and mVsesoun, 

As thyn herberwe chaungeth lowe or heighe, 1035 

Lord Phebus, cast thy merciable eighe 

On wrecche Aurelie, which that am but lorn. 

Lo, lord, my lady hath my deeth ysworn 

Withoute gilt, but thy benignytee 

Upon my dedly herte have som pitee. 1040 

For wel I woot, lord Phebus, if yow lest, 

Ye may me helpen, save my lady, best. 

Now voucheth sauf that I may yow devyse 

How that I may been holpen and in what wyse. 

Your blisful suster, Lucina the sheene, 1045 

That of the see is chief goddesse and queene, 

(Though Neptunus have deitee in the see, 

Yet emperisse aboven hym is she) 

Ye knowen wel, lord, that right as hir desir 

Is to be quyked and lightned of youre fir, 1050 

For which she folweth yow ful bisily, 

Right so the see desireth naturelly 

To folwen hir, as she that is goddesse 

1037 that om. 


Bothe in the see and ryveres moore and lesse. 

Wherfore, lord Phebus, this is my requeste; 1055 

Do this miracle, or do myn herte breste, 

That now next at this opposicioun 

Which in the signe shal be of the Leoun, 

As preieth hir, so greet a flood to brynge 

That fyve fadme at the leeste it oversprynge 1060 

The hyeste rokke in Armorik Briteyne, 

And lat this flood endure yeres tweyne. 

Thanne, certes, to my lady may I seye 

'Holdeth youre heste, the rokkes been aweye.' 

Lord Phebus, dooth this miracle for me, 1065 

Preye hir she go no faster cours than ye. 

I seye, preyeth your suster that she go 

No faster cours than ye thise yeres two. 

Thanne shal she been evene atte fulle alway, 

And spryng flood laste bothe nyght and day; 1070 

And but she vouche sauf in swich manere 

To graunte me my sovereyn lady deere, 

Prey hir to synken every rok adoun 

Into hir owene dirke regioun 

Under the ground ther Pluto dwelleth inne, 1075 

Or nevere mo shal I my lady wynne. 

Thy temple in Delphos wol I barefoot seke, 

Lord Phebus ; se the teeris on my cheke, 

And of my peyne have som compassioun !" 

And with that word in swowne he fil adoun, 1080 

And longe tyme he lay forth in a traunce. 

His brother, which that knew of his penaunce, 

Up caughte hym, and to bedde he hath hym broght. 

Dispeyred in this torment and this thoght 

Lete I this woful creature lye; 1085 

Chese he for me wheither he wol lyve or dye. 

Arveragus with heele and greet honour, 
As he that was of chivalrie the flour, 
Is comen hoom, and othere worthy men. 


O blisful artow now, thou Dorigen! 1090 

That hast thy lusty housbonde in thyne armes, 

The fresshe knyght, the worthy man of armes, 

That loveth thee, as his owene hertes lyf. 

No thyng list hym to been ymaginatyf 

If any wight hadde spoke, whil he was oute, 1095 

To hire of love ; he hadde of it no doute, 

He noght entendeth to no swich mateere, 

But daunceth, justeth, maketh hir good cheere, 

And thus in joye and blisse I lete hem dwelle, 

And of the sike Aurelius I wol telle. 1100 

In langour and in torment furyus 

Two yeer and moore lay wrecche Aurelyus, 

Er any foot he myghte on erthe gon; 

Ne confort in this tyme hadde he noon, 

Save of his brother, which that was a clerk. 1105 

He knew of al this wo and al this werk; 

For to noon oother creature, certeyn, 

Of this matere he dorste no word seyn. 

Under his brest he baar it moore secree 

Than evere dide Pamphilus for Galathee. 1110 

His brest was hool withoute for to sene, 

But in his herte ay was the arwe kene. 

And wel ye knowe that of a sursanure 

In surgerye is perilous the cure, 

But men myghte touche the arwe, or come therby. 1115 

His brother weep and wayled pryvely, 

Til atte laste hym fil in remembraunce 

That whiles he was at Orliens in Fraunce, 

As yonge clerkes, that been lykerous 

To reden artes that been curious, 1120 

Seken in every halke and every herne 

Particular sciences for to lerne, 

He hym remembred, that upon a day 

At Orliens in studie a book he say 

1100 wol yow. 1120 artz. 


Of magyk natureel, which his felawe, 1125 

That was that tyme a bacheler of lawe 

Al were he ther to lerne another craft 

Hadde prively upon his desk ylaft; 

Which book spak muchel of the operaciouns, 

Touchynge the eighte and twenty mansiouns 1130 

That longen to the moone, and swich folye 

As in oure dayes is nat worth a flye. 

For hooly chirches feith in oure bileve 

Ne suffreth noon illusioun us to greve. 

And whan this book was in his remembraunce, 1135 

Anon for j oye his herte gan to daunce, 

And to hymself he seyde pryvely, 

"My brother shal be warisshed hastily ; 

For I am siker that ther be sciences 

By whiche men make diverse apparences 1140 

Swiche as thise subtile tregetoures pleye; 

For ofte at feestes have I wel herd seye 

That tregetours withinne an halle large 

Have maad come in a water and a barge, 

And in the halle rowen up and doun. 1145 

Somtyme hath semed come a grym leoun ; 

And somtyme floures sprynge as in a mede, 

Somtyme a vyne, and grapes white and rede, 

Somtyme a castel al of lym and stoon ; 

And whan hem lyked, voyded it anoon, 1150 

Thus semed it to every mannes sighte. 

Now thanne conclude I thus, that if I myghte 

At Orliens som oold felawe yfynde 

That hadde this moones mansions in mynde, 

Or oother magyk natureel above, 1155 

He sholde wel make my brother han his love ; 

For with an apparence a clerk may make 

To mannes sighte, that alle the rokkes blake 

Of Britaigne weren yvoyded everichon, 

1141 tregetours. 1150 hem hym. 


And shippes by the brynke comen and gon, 11 60 

And in swich forme enduren a wowke or two ; 
Thanne were my brother warisshed of his wo ; 
Thanne moste she nedes holden hir biheste, 
Or elles he shal shame hir atte leeste." 

What sholde I make a lenger tale of this? 1165 

Unto his brotheres bed he comen is, 
And swich confort he yaf hym for to gon 
To Orliens, that he up stirte anon 
And on his wey forthward thanne is he fare, 
In hope for to been lissed of his care. 1170 

Whan they were come almoost to that citee, 
But if it were a two furlong or thre, 
A yong clerk romynge by hymself they mette 
Which that in Latyn thriftily hem grette, 
And after that he seyde a wonder thyng. 1175 

"I knowe," quod he, "the cause of youre comyng." 
And er they ferther any foote wente, 
He tolde hem al that was in hire entente ! 
This Briton clerk hym asked of felawes, 
The whiche that he had knowe in olde dawes; 1180 

And he answerde hym that they dede were, 
For which he weep ful ofte many a teere. 
Doun of his hors Aurelius lighte anon, 
And with this magicien forth is he gon 
Hoom to his hous, and maden hem wel at ese; 1185 

Hem lakked no vitaille that myghte hem plese, 
So wel arrayed hous as ther was oon, 
Aurelius in his lyf saugh nevere noon. 
He shewed hym, er he wente to sopeer, 
Forestes, parkes ful of wilde deer, 11 90 

Ther saugh he hertes with hir homes hye, 
The gretteste that evere were seyn with eye, 
He saugh of hem an hondred slayn with houndes, 
And somme with arwes blede of bittre woundes. 
He saugh, whan voyded were thise wilde deer, 1195 


Thise fauconers upon a fair ryver, 

That with hir haukes han the heroun slayn. 

Tho saugh he knyghtes justyng in a playn; 

And after this he dide hym swich plesaunce, 

That he hym shewed his lady on a daunce 1200 

On which hymself he daunced, as hym thoughte. 

And whan this maister that this magyk wroughte 

Saugh it was tyme, he clapte hise handes two, 

And f arewel ! al oure revel was ago ! 

And yet remoeved they nevere out of the hous, 1205 

Whil they saugh al this sighte merveillous, 

But in his studie, ther as hise bookes be, 

They seten stille, and no wight but they thre. 

To hym this maister called his squier, 

And seyde hym thus, "Is redy oure soper? 1210 

Almoost an houre it is, I undertake, 

Sith I yow bad oure soper for to make, 

Whan that thise worthy men wenten with me 

Into my studie, ther as my bookes be." 

"Sire," quod this Squier, "whan it liketh yow, 1215 

It is al redy, though ye wol right now." 

"Go we thanne soupe," quod he, "as for the beste, 

This amorous folk som tyme moote han hir reste." 

At after soper fille they in tretee, 

What somme sholde this maistres gerdoun be, 1220 

To remoeven alle the rokkes of Britayne, 

And eek from Gerounde to the mouth of Sayne. 

He made it straunge, and swoor, so God hym save, 

Lasse than a thousand pound he wolde nat have, 

Ne gladly for that somme he wolde nat goon. 1225 

Aurelius with blisful herte anoon 

Answerde thus, "Fy on a thousand pound ! 

This wyde world, which that men seye is round, 

I wolde it yeve, if I were lord of it. 

This bargayn is ful dryve, for we been knyt; 1230 

Ye shal be payed trewely, by my trouthe. 


But looketh now for no necligence or slouthe 

Ye tarie us heere, no lenger than to-morwe." 

"Nay/' quod this clerk, "have heer my feith to borwe." 

To bedde is goon Aurelius whan hym leste, 1235 

And wel ny al that nyght he hadde his reste ; 

What for his labour and his hope of blisse, 

His woful herte of penaunce hadde a lisse. 

Upon the morwe, whan that it was day, 

To Britaigne tooke they the righte way, 1240 

Aurelie and this magicien bisyde, 

And been descended ther they wolde abyde. 

And this was, as thise bookes me remembre, 

The colde frosty sesoun of Decembre. 

Phebus wax old, and hewed lyk latoun, 1245 

That in his hoote declynacioun 
Shoon as the burned gold, with stremes brighte; 
But now in Capricorn adoun he lighte, 
Where as he shoon ful pale, I dar wel seyn. 
The bittre frostes, with the sleet and reyn, 1250 

Destroyed hath the grene in every yerd; 
Janus sit by the fyr, with double berd, 
And drynketh of his bugle horn the wyn. 
Biforn hym stant brawen of the tusked swyn, 
And 'Nowel' crieth every lusty man. 1255 

Aurelius, in al that evere he kan, 
Dooth to his master chiere and reverence, 
And preyeth hym to doon his diligence 
To bryngen hym out of his peynes smerte, 
Or with a swerd that he wolde slitte his herte. 1260 

This subtil clerk swich routhe had of this man, 
That nyght and day he spedde hym that he kan 
To wayten a tyme of his conclusioun, 
This is to seye, to maken illusioun 

By swich an apparence or jogelrye 1265 

I ne kan no termes of astrologye 

1241 Aurelius. 


That she and every wight sholde wene and seye 

That of Britaigne the rokkes were aweye, 

Or ellis they were sonken under grounde. 

So atte laste he hath his tyme yfounde 1270 

To maken hise japes and his wrecchednesse 

Of swich a supersticious cursednesse. 

Hise tables Tolletanes forth he brought, 

Ful wel corrected, ne ther lakked nought, 

Neither his collect ne hise expans yeeris, 1275 

Ne hise rootes, ne hise othere geeris, 

As been his centris and hise argumentz, 

And hise proporcioneles convenientz 

For hise equacions in every thyng. 

And by his eighte speere in his wirkyng 1280 

He knew f ul wel how fer Alnath was shove 

Fro the heed of thilke fixe Aries above 

That in the ninthe speere considered is. 

Ful subtilly he kalkuled al this. 

Whan he hadde founde his firste mansioun, 1285 

He knew the remenaunt by proporcioun, 
And knew the arisyng of his moone weel, 
And in whos face and terme, and everydeel ; 
And knew ful weel the moones mansioun 
Acordaunt to his operacioun, 1290 

And knew also hise othere observaunces 
For swiche illusiouns and swiche meschaunces 
As hethen folk useden in thilke dayes ; 
For which no lenger maked he delayes, 

But thurgh his magik, for a wyke or tweye, 1295 

It semed that alle the rokkes were aweye. 
Aurelius, which that yet despeired is, 
Wher he shal han his love, or fare amys, 
Awaiteth nyght and day on this myracle. 
And whan he knew that ther was noon obstacle, 1300 

That voyded were thise rokkes everychon, 
1284 he hadde. 



Doun to hise maistres feet he fil anon, 

And seyde, "I woful wrecche, Aurelius, 

Thanke yow, lord, and lady myn, Venus, 

That me han holpen fro my cares colde." 

And to the temple his wey forth hath he holde 

Where as he knew he sholde his lady see, 

And whan he saugh his tyme, anon right hee 

With dredful herte and with ful humble cheere 

Salewed hath his sovereyn lady deere. 

"My righte lady/' quod this woful man, 

"Whom I moost drede and love as I best kan, 

And lothest were of al this world displese, 

Nere it that I for yow have swich disese 

That I moste dyen heere at youre foot anon, 

Noght wolde I telle how me is wo bigon; 

But, certes, outher moste I dye or pleyne, 

Ye sle me giltelees for verray peyne. 

But of my deeth thogh that ye have no routhe, 

Avyseth yow er that ye breke youre trouthe. 

Repenteth yow for thilke God above, 

Er ye me sleen by cause that I yow love. 

For madame, wel ye woot what ye han hight; 

Nat that I chalange any thyng of right 

Of yow, my sovereyn lady, but youre grace; 

But in a gardyn yond at swich a place 

Ye woot right wel what ye bihighten me, 

And in myn hand youre trouthe plighten ye 

To love me best, God woot ye seyde so, 

Al be that I unworthy be therto. 

Madame, I speke it for the honour of yow, 

Moore than to save myn hertes lyf right now. 

I have do so as ye comanded me, 

And if ye vouchesauf, ye may go see. 

Dooth as yow list, have youre biheste in mynde, 

For, quyk or deed, right there ye shal me fynde. 

1318 giltlees. 










In yow lith al, to do me lyve or deye, 
But wel I woot the rokkes been aweye !" 

He taketh his leve, and she astonied stood, 
In al hir face nas a drope of blood. 1340 

She wende nevere han come in swich a trappe. 
"Alias/' quod she, "that evere this sholde happe. 
For wende I nevere, by possibilitee, 
That swich a monstre or merveille myghte be. 
It is agayns the proces of nature." 1345 

And hoom she goth a sorweful creature, 
For verray feere unnethe may she go. 
She wepeth, wailleth, al a day or two, 
And swowneth that it routhe was to see ; 

But why it was, to no wight tolde shee, 1350 

For out of towne was goon Arveragus. 
But to hirself she spak, and seyde thus, 
With face pale and with ful sorweful cheere, 
In hire compleynt, as ye shal after heere. 
"Alias!" quod she, "on thee, Fortune, I pleyne, 1355 

That unwar wrapped hast me in thy cheyne; 
For which tescape woot I no socour 
Save oonly deeth or elles dishonour; 
Oon of thise two bihoveth me to chese. 

But natheless, yet have I levere to lese 1360 

My lif, than of my body have a shame, 
Or knowe myselven fals or lese my name, 
And with my deth I may be quy t, ywis ; 
Hath ther nat many a noble wyf er this 

And many a mayde yslayn hirself, alias, 1365 

Rather than with hir body doon trespas ? 
Yis, certes, lo, thise stories beren witnesse, 
Whan thritty tirauntz, ful of cursednesse, 
Hadde slayn Phidoun in Atthenes, at feste, 
They comanded hise doghtres for tareste, 1370 

And bryngen hem biforn hem in despit, 

1357 scour. 1358 elles om. 


Al naked, to f ulfille hir foul delit, 
And in hir fadres blood they made hem daunce 
Upon the pavement, God yeve hem myschaunce ; 
For which thise woful maydens ful of drede, 1375 

Rather than they wolde lese hir maydenhede, 
They prively been stirt into a welle 
And dreynte hemselven, as the bookes telle. 
They of Mecene leete enquere and seke 
Of Lacedomye fifty maydens eke, 1380 

On whiche they wolden doon hir lecherye; 
But was ther noon of al that compaigiiye 
That she nas slayn, and with a good entente 
Chees rather for to dye than assente 
To been oppressed of hir maydenhede. 1385 

Why sholde I thanne to dye been in drede ? 
Lo, eek the tiraunt Aristoclides, 
That loved a mayden heet Stymphalides, 
Whan that hir fader slayn was on a nyght, 
Unto Dianes temple goth she right, 1390 

And hente the ymage in hir handes two; 
Fro which ymage wolde she nevere go, 
No wight ne myghte hir handes of it arace, 
Til she was slayn right in the selve place. 
Now sith that maydens hadden swich despit, 1395 

To been defouled with mannes foul delit, 
Wei oghte a wyf rather hirselven slee, 
Than be defouled, as it thynketh me. 
What shal I seyn of Hasdrubales wyf 

That at Cartage birafte hirself hir lyf ? 1400 

For whan she saugh that Romayns wan the toun, 
She took hir children alle and skipte adoun 
Into the fyr, and chees rather to dye 
Than any Romayn dide hir vileynye. 

Hath nat Lucresse yslayn hirself, alias, 1405 

At Rome whan that she oppressed was 
1406 that om. 


Of Tarquyn, for hir thoughte it was a shame 
To lyven whan she hadde lost hir name ? 
The sevene maydens of Melesie also 

Han slayn hemself, for verray drede and wo 1410 

Rather than folk of Gawle hem sholde oppresse. 
Mo than a thousand stories,, as I gesse, 
Koude I now telle as touchynge this mateere. 
Whan Habradate was slayn, his wyf so deere 
Hirselven slow, and leet hir blood to glyde 14*15 

In Habradates woundes depe and wyde ; 
And seyde, "My body at the leeste way 
Ther shal no wight defoulen, if I may." 
What sholde I mo ensamples heer of sayn? 
Sith that so manye han hemselven slayn, 1420 

Wei rather than they wolde defouled be, 
I wol conclude that it is bet for me 
To sleen myself, than been defouled thus. 
I wol be trewe unto Arveragus, 

Or rather sleen myself in som manere, 1425 

As dide Demociones doghter deere, 
By cause that she wolde nat defouled be. 
O Cedasus, it is ful greet pitee 
To reden how thy doghtren deyde, alias, 
That slowe hemself, for swich manere cas! 1430 

As greet a pitee was it, or wel moore, 
The Theban mayden, that for Nichanore 
Hirselven slow right for swich manere wo. 
Another Theban mayden dide right so ; 

For oon of Macidonye hadde hire oppressed, 1435 

She with hire deeth hir maydenhede redressed. 
What shal I seye of Nicerates wyf, 
That for swich cas birafte hirself hir lyf ? 
How trewe eek was to Alcebiades 

His love that rather for to dyen chees 1440 

Than for to suffre his body unburyed be. 
1408 had. 1440 that om. 


Lo, which a wyf was Alceste," quod she, 

"What seith Omer of goode Penalopee? 

Al Grece knoweth of hire chastitee. 

Pardee of Lacedomya is writen thus, 1445 

That whan at Troie was slayn Protheselaus, 

No lenger wolde she lyve after his day. 

The same of noble Porcia telle I may, 

Withoute Brutus koude she nat lyve, 

To whom she hadde al hool hir herte yeve. 1450 

The parfit wyfhod of Arthemesie 

Honured is thurgh al the Barbaric. 

Teuta queene, thy wyfly chastitee 
To alle wyves may a mirour bee ! 

The same thyng I seye of Bilyea, 1455 

Of Rodogone, and eek Valeria." 

Thus pleyned Dorigene a day or tweye, 

Purposynge evere that she wolde deye. 

But nathelees, upon the thridde nyght 

Hoom cam Arveragus, this worthy knyght, 1460 

And asked hir why that she weep so soore. 
And she gan wepen ever lenger the moore. 
"Alias !" quod she, "that evere I was born. 
Thus have I seyd," quod she, "thus have I sworn;" 
And toold hym al as ye han herd bifore, 1465 

It nedeth nat reherce it yow namoore. 
This housbonde with glad chiere in freendly wyse 
Answerde and seyde, as I shal yow devyse, 
"Is ther oght elles, Dorigen, but this ?" 
"Nay, nay," quod she, "God helpe me so, as wys, 1470 

This is to muche, and it were Goddes wille." 
"Ye, wyf," quod he, "lat slepen that is stille. 
It may be wel paraventure yet to-day. 
Ye shul youre trouthe holden, by my fay. 
For God so wisly have mercy upon me, 1475 

1 hadde wel levere ystiked for to be 
1457 pleyne. 


For verray love which that I to yow have, 

But if ye sholde your trouthe kepe and save. 

Trouthe is the hyeste thyng that man may kepe." 

But with that word he brast anon to wepe 1480 

And seyde, "I yow forbede, up peyne of deeth, 

That nevere whil thee lasteth lyf ne breeth, 

To no wight telle thou of this aventure; 

As I may best, I wol my wo endure. 

Ne make no contenance of hevynesse, 1485 

That folk of yow may demen harm or gesse." 

And forth he cleped a squier and a mayde; 

"Gooth forth anon with Dorigen," he sayde, 

"And bryngeth hir to swich a place anon/' 

They take hir leve, and on hir wey they gon, 1490 

But they ne wiste why she thider wente, 

He nolde no wight tellen his entente. 

Paraventure, an heep of yow, ywis, 

Wol holden hym a lewed man in this, 

That he wol putte his wyf in jupartie. 1495 

Herkneth the tale er ye upon hire crie ; 

She may have bettre fortune than yow semeth, 

And whan that ye han herd the tale, demeth. 

This squier, which that highte Aurelius, 
On Dorigen that was so amorus, 1500 

Of aventure happed hir to meete 
Amydde the toun, right in the quykkest strete, 
As she was bown to goon the wey forth-right 
Toward the gardyn, ther as she had hight. 
And he was to the gardynward also, 1505 

j For wel he spyed whan she wolde go 
Out of hir hous to any maner place. 
But thus they mette, of aventure or grace 
And he saleweth hir with glad entente, 

And asked of hir whiderward she wente. 1510 

And she answerde, half as she were mad, 

1481 of om. 


"Unto the gardyn as myn housbonde bad, 

My trouthe for to holde, alias ! alias !" 

Aurelius gan wondren on this cas, 

And in his herte hadde greet compassioun 1515 

Of hir and of hir lamentacioun, 

And of Arveragus, the worthy knyght. 

That bad hire holden al that she had hight, 

So looth hym was his wyf sholde breke hir trouthe ; 

And in his herte he caughte of this greet routhe, 1520 

Considerynge the beste on every syde 

That fro his lust yet were hym levere abyde 

Than doon so heigh a cherlyssh wrecchednesse 

Agayns franchise and alle gentillesse. 

For which in fewe wordes seyde he thus: 1525 

"Madame, seyeth to your lord Arveragus, 

That sith I se his grete gentillesse 

To yow, and eek I se wel youre distresse, 

That him were levere han shame and that were routhe 

Than ye to me sholde breke thus youre trouthe, 1530 

I have wel levere evere to suffre wo 

Than I departe the love bitwix yow two. 

I yow relesse, madame, into youre hond 

Quyt every surement and every bond, 

That ye han maad to me as heer biforn, 1535 

Sith thilke tyme which that ye were born. 

My trouthe I plighte, I shal yow never repreve 

Of no biheste, and heere I take my leve, 

As of the treweste and the beste wyf 

That evere yet I knew in al my lyf. 1540 

But every wyf be war of hir biheeste, 

On Dorigene remembreth atte leeste ! 

Thus kan a squier doon a gentil dede 

As wel as kan a knyght, withouten drede." 

She thonketh hym upon hir knees al bare, 154i 

And hoom unto hir housbonde is she fare, 

And tolde hym al, as ye han herd me sayd; 


And be ye siker, he was so weel apayd . 

That it were inpossible me to wryte. 

What sholde I lenger of this cas endyte? 1550 

Arveragus and Dorigene his wyf 
In sovereyn blisse leden forth hir lyf, 
Nevere eft ne was ther angre hem bitwene. 
He cherisseth hir as though she were a queene, 
And she was to hym trewe for everemoore. 1555 

Of thise two folk ye gete of me namoore. 
Aurelius, that his cost hath al forlorn 
Curseth the tyme that evere he was born. 
"Alias/' quod he,, "alias, that I bihighte 

Of pured gold a thousand pound of wighte 1560 

Unto this philosophre! how shal I do? 
I se namoore but that I am fordo; 
Myn heritage moot I nedes selle 
And been a beggere ; heere may I nat dwelle, 
And shamen al my kynrede in this place, 1565 

But I of hym may gete bettre grace. 
But nathelees I wole of hym assaye 
At certeyn dayes yeer by yeer to paye, 
And thanke hym of his grete curteisye; 
My trouthe wol I kepe, I wol nat lye." 1570 

With herte soor he gooth unto his cofre, 
And broghte gold unto this philosophre 
The value of fyve hundred pound, I gesse, 
And hym bisecheth of his gentillesse 

To graunte hym dayes of the remenaunt, 1575 

And seyde, "Maister, I dar wel make avaunt, 
I failled nevere of my trouthe as yit. 
For sikerly my dette shal be quyt 
Towardes yow, how evere that I fare, 

To goon a begged in my kirtle bare! 1580 

But wolde ye vouche sauf upon seuretee 
Two yeer or thre, for to respiten me, 

1556 two om. 


Thanne^were I wel, for elles moot I selle 

Myn heritage, ther is namoore to telle." 

This philosophre sobrely answerde, 1585 

And seyde thus, whan he thise wordes herde, 

"Have I nat holden covenant unto thee?" 

"Yes, certes, wel and trewely," quod he. 

"Hastow nat had thy lady, as thee liketh ?" 

"No, no," quod he, and sorwefully he siketh. 1590 

"What was the cause, tel me if thou kan?" 

Aurelius his tale anon bigan, 

And tolde hym al, as ye han herd bifoore, 

It nedeth nat to yow reherce it moore. 

He seide, Arveragus of gentillesse 1595 

Hadde levere dye in sorwe and in distresse 

Than that his wyf were of hir trouthe f als ; 

The sorwe of Dorigen he tolde hym als, 

How looth hir was to been a wikked wyf, 

And that she levere had lost that day hir lyf, 1600 

And that hir trouthe she swoor, thurgh innocence, 

She nevere erst hadde herd speke of apparence. 

"That made me han of hir so greet pitee; 

And right as frely as he sente hir me, 

As frely sente I hir to hym ageyn. 1605 

This al and som, ther is namoore to seyn." 

This philosophre answerde, "Leeve brother, 

Everich of yow dide gentilly til oother. 

Thou art a squier, and he is a knyght ; 

But God forbede, for his blisful myght, 1610 

But if a clerk koude doon a gentil dede 

As wel as any of yow, it is no drede. 

Sire, I releesse thee thy thousand pound, 

As thou right now were cropen out of the ground, 

Ne nevere er now ne haddest knowen me; 1615 

For, sire, I wol nat taken a peny of thee 

For al my craft, ne noght for my travaille. 

Thou hast ypayed wel for my vitaille, 


It is ynogh, and farewel, have good day." 

And took his hors, and forth he goth his way. 1620 

Lordynges, this questioun wolde I aske now, 
Which was the mooste fre, as thynketh yow? 
Now telleth me, er that ye ferther wende, 
I kan namoore, my tale is at an ende. 

1621 thanne wolde. 

Heere is ended the Frankeleyns tale. 



The Prologe of the Seconde Nonnes Tale. 

The ministre and the norice unto vices, 

Which that men clepe in Englissh ydelnesse, 

That porter of the gate is of delices, 

To eschue, and by hir contrarie hir oppresse, 

(That is to sej r n by leveful bisynesse), 

Wei oghten we to doon al oure entente, 

Lest that the feend thurgh ydelnesse us shente. 

For he, that with hise thousand cordes slye 

Continuelly us waiteth to biclappe, 

Whan he may man in ydelnesse espye, 10 

He kan so lightly cacche hym in his trappe, 

Til that a man be hent right by the lappe, 

He nys nat war the feend hath hym in honde. 

Wei oghte us werche, and ydelnesse withstonde. 


And though men dradden nevere for to dye, 15 

Yet seen men wel by resoun, doutelees, 

That ydelnesse is roten slogardye, 

Of which ther nevere comth no good encrees ; 

And seen that slouthe hir holdeth in a lees, 

Oonly to slepe, and for to ete and drynke, 20 

And to devouren al that othere swynke. 

And for to putte us fro swich ydelnesse, 
That cause is of so greet confusioun, 
I have heer doon my feithful bisynesse, 
18 nencrees. 19 hir it. 


After the legende, in translacioun 25 

Right of thy glorious lif and passioun, 

Thou with thy gerland wroght with rose and lilie, 

Thee meene I, mayde and martir, seint Cecilie. 

Invocacio ad Mariam. 

And thow that flour of virgines art alle, 

Of whom that Bernard list so wel to write, 30 

To thee at my bigynnyng first I calle, 

Thou confort of us wrecches, do me endite 

Thy maydens deeth, that wan thurgh hir merite 

The eterneel lyf, and of the feend victorie, 

As man may after reden in hir storie. 35 

Thow mayde and mooder, doghter of thy sone, 

Thow welle of mercy, synful soules cure, 

In whom that God for bountee chees to wone, 

Thow humble and heigh, over every creature 

Thow nobledest so ferforth oure nature, 40 

That no desdeyn the makere hadde of kynde, 

His sone in blood and flessh to clothe and wynde. 

Withinne the cloistre blisful of thy sydis 

Took mannes shape the eterneel love and pees, 

That of the tryne compas lord and gyde is, 45 

Whom erthe and see and hevene out of relees 

Ay heryen, and thou, virgine wemmelees, 

Baar of thy body, and dweltest mayden pure, 

The creatour of every creature. 

Assembled is in thee magnificence 50 

With mercy, goodnesse, and with swich pitee 
That thou, that art the sonne of excellence, 
Nat oonly helpest hem that preyen thee, 
28 martir seint mooder. 


But oftentyme, of thy benygnytee, 

Fill frely, er that men thyn help biseche, 55 

Thou goost biforn, and art hir lyves leche. 

Now help, thow meeke and blisful faire mayde, 

Me, flemed wrecche in this desert of galle ; 

Thynk on the womman Cananee, that sayde 

That whelpes eten somme of the crommes alle, 60 

That from hir lordes table been yfalle, 

And though that I, unworthy sone 1 of Eve, 

Be synful, yet accepte my bileve. 

And for that feith is deed withouten werkis, 

So for to werken yif me wit and space, 65 

That I be quit fro thennes that moost derk is. 

O thou, that art so fair and ful of grace, 

Be myn advocat in that heighe place 

Ther as withouten ende is songe Osanne, 

Thow Cristes mooder, doghter deere of Anne! 70 

And of thy light my soule in prison lighte, 
That troubled is by the contagioun 
Of my body, and also by the wighte 
Of erthely lust and fals affeccioun, 

havene of refut, O salvacioune 75 
Of hem that been in sorwe and in distresse, 

Now help, for to my werk I wol me dresse. 

Yet preye I yow that reden that I write, 

Foryeve me, that I do no diligence 

This ilke storie subtilly to endite, 80 

For bothe have I the wordes and sentence 

Of hym that at the seintes reverence 

The storie wroot, and folwe hir legende. 

1 pray yow, that ye wole my werk amende. 

cf. Glossary. 
88 folwen. 


First wolde I yow the name of seinte Cecile 85 

Expowne, as men may in hir storie see. interpretacio nom- 

_ . _, _. , ,. inis Cecilie quam 

It is to seye in Englissh, nevenes line ponit frater Jaco- 

bus Januensis in 

ror pure chaastnesse 01 virgimtee, legendo 

Or for she whitnesse hadde of honestee 

And grene of conscience, and of good fame 90 

The soote savour, lilie was hir name. 

Or Cecilie is to seye, 'the wey to blynde,' 

For she ensample was by good techynge; 

Or elles, Cecile, as I writen fynde 

Is joyned by a manere conjoynynge 95 

Of 'hevene' and lia,' and heere in figurynge 

The 'hevene' is set for thoght of hoolynesse, 

And 'lia' for hir lastynge bisynesse. 

Cecile may eek be seyd, in this manere, 

'Wantynge of blyndnesse,' for hir grete light 100 

Of sapience, and for hire thewes cleere 

Or elles, loo, this maydens name bright 

Of 'hevene' and 'leos' comth, for which by right 

Men myghte hir wel 'the hevene of peple' calle, 

Ensample of goode and wise werkes alle. 105 

For 'leos' 'peple' in Englissh is to seye, 

And right as men may in the hevene see 

The sonne and moone and sterres every weye, 

Right so men goostly, in this mayden free, 

Syen of feith the magnanymytee, 110 

And eek the cleernesse hool of sapience, 

And sondry werkes, brighte of excellence. 

And right so as thise philosophres write 

That hevene is swift and round and eek brennynge, 

Right so was faire Cecilie the white 115 

Ful swift and bisy evere in good werkynge, 

85 yow om. 


And round and hool in good perseverynge, 
And brennynge evere in charite ful brighte. 
Now have I yow declared what she highte. 

Here bigynneth the Seconde Nonnes tale of the lyf of 
Seinte Cecile. 

This mayden, bright Cecilie, as hir lif seith, 120 

Was comen of Romayns, and of noble kynde, 

And from hir cradel up fostred in the feith 

Of Crist, and bar his gospel in hir raynde. 

She nevere cessed, as I writen fynde, 

Of hir preyere, and God to love and drede, 125 

Bisekynge hym to kepe hir maydenhede. 

And whan this mayden sholde unto a man 

Ywedded be, that was ful yong of age, 

Which that ycleped was Valerian, 

And day was comen of hir marriage, 130 

She, ful devout and humble in hir corage, 

Under hir robe of gold, that sat ful faire, 

Hadde next hir flessh yclad hir in an haire. 

And whil the orgnes maden melodie, 

To God allone in herte thus sang she: . 135 

"O Lord, my soule and eek my body gye 

Unwemmed, lest that I confounded be." 

And for his love that dyde upon a tree, 

Every seconde and thridde day she faste, 

Ay biddynge in hir orisons ful faste. 140 

The nyght cam, and to bedde moste she gon 
With hir housbonde, as ofte is the manere, 
And pryvely to hym she seyde anon, 
"O sweete and wel biloved spouse deere, 
134 orgues. 137 it. 


Ther is a conseil, and ye wolde it heere, 145 

Which that right fayn I wolde unto yow seye, 
So that ye swere ye shul me nat biwreye." 

Valerian gan faste unto hire swere 

That for no cas, ne thyng that myghte be, 

He sholde nevere mo biwreyen here, 150 

And thanne at erst to hym thus seyde she, 

"I have an Aungel which that loveth me, 

That with greet love, wher so I wake or sleepe, 

Is redy ay my body for to kepe. 

And if that he may feelen out of drede 155 

That ye me touche, or love in vileynye, 

He right anon wol sle yow with the dede, 

And in youre yowthe thus ye sholden dye. 

And if that ye in clene love me gye, 

He wol yow loven as me for youre clennesse, 160 

And shewen yow his joye and his brightnesse." 

Valerian, corrected as God wolde, 

Answerde agayn, "If I shal trusten thee, 

Lat me that aungel se, and hym biholde, 

And if that it a verray angel bee, 165 

Thanne wol I doon as thou hast prayed me ; 

And if thou love another man, forsothe 

Right with this swerd thanne wol I sle yow bothe." 

Cecile answerde anon right in this wise, 
"If that yow list, the angel shul ye see, 170 

So that ye trowe in Crist, and yow baptize. 
Gooth forth to Via Apia," quod shee, 
"That fro this toun ne stant but miles three; 
And to the povre folkes that ther dwelle 
Sey hem right thus as that I shal yow telle. 175 

155 that om. 


Telle hem, that I Cecile yow to hem sente, 

To shewen yow the goode Urban the olde, 

For secree thynges and for good entente ; 

And whan that ye Seint Urban han biholde, 

Telle hym the wordes whiche that I to yow tolde, 1 80 

And whan that he hath purged yow fro synne, 

Thanne shul ye se that angel er ye twynne." 

Valerian is to the place ygon, 

And right as hym was taught by his lernynge, 

He foond this hooly olde Urban anon 185 

Among the seintes buryeles lotynge. 

And he anon, withouten tariynge, 

Dide his message, and whan that he it tolde, 

Urban for joye his handes gan up holde. 

The teeris from hise eyen leet he falle. 190 

"Almyghty lord, O Jesu Crist," quod he, 

"Sower of chaast conseil, hierde of us alle, 

The fruyt of thilke seed of chastitee 

That thou hast sowe in Cecile, taak to thee. 

Lo, lyk a bisy bee, withouten gile, 195 

Thee serveth ay thyn owene thral Cecile ! 

For thilke spouse that she took but now 

Ful lyk a fiers leoun, she sendeth heere 

As meke as evere was any lomb, to yow." 

And with that word anon ther gan appeere 20( 

An oold man clad in white clothes cleere, 

That hadde a book with lettre of gold in honde, 

And gan bifore Valerian to stonde. 

Valerian as deed fil doun for drede 

Whan he hym saugh, and he up hente hym tho, 

And on his book right thus he gan to rede, 

197 but right. 


"O lord, o feith, o god, withouten mo, 

Cristendom, and fader of alle also, 
Aboven alle, and over alle, everywhere. " 

Thise wordes al with gold ywriten were. 210 

Whan this was rad, thanne seyde this olde man, 

"Leevestow this thyng or no? sey ye or nay?" 

"I leeve al this thyng," quod Valerian, 

"For oother thyng than this, I dar wel say, 

Under the hevene no wight thynke may." 215 

Tho vanysshed this olde man, he nyste where ; 

And Pope Urban hym cristned right there. 

Valerian gooth hoom, and fynt Cecilie 

Withinne his chambre with an angel stonde. 

This angel hadde of roses and of lilie 220 

Corones two, the whiche he bar in honde ; 

And first to Cecile, as I underston/le, 

He yaf that oon, and after gan he take 

That oother to Valerian hir make. 

"With body clene and with unwemmed thoght 225 

Kepeth ay wel thise corones," quod he, 

"Fro Paradys to yow have I hem broght, 

Ne nevere mo ne shal they roten bee, 

Ne lese hir soote savour, trusteth me, 

Ne nevere wight shal seen hem with his eye 230 

But he be chaast and hate vileynye. 

And thow Valerian, for thow so soone 

Assentedest to good conseil also, 

Sey what thee list, and thou shalt han thy boone." 

"I have a brother," quod Valerian tho, 235 

"That in this world I love no man so. 

1 pray yow that my brother may han grace, 
To knowe the trouthe, as I do in this place." 

209 and om. 226 quod he thre. 


The angel seyde, "God liketh thy requeste, 

And bothe with the palm of martirdom 240 

Ye shullen come unto his blisful feste." 

And with that word Tiburce his brother coom; 

And whan that he the savour undernoom, 

Which that the roses and the lilies caste, 

Withinne his herte he gan to wondre faste, 245 

And seyde, "I wondre, this tyme of the yeer, 

Whennes that soote savour cometh so 

Of rose and lilies that I smelle heer. 

For though I hadde hem in myne handes two, 

The savour myghte in me no depper go, 250 

The sweete smel that in myn herte I fynde 

Hath chaunged me al in another kynde." 

Valerian seyde, "Two corones han we, 

Snow-white and rose-reedthat shynen cleere, 

Whiche that thyne eyen han no myght to see, 255 

And as thou smellest hem thurgh my preyere, 

So shaltow seen hem, leeve brother deere, 

If it so be thou wolt, withouten slouthe, 

Bileve aright and knowen verray trouthe." 

Tiburce answerde, "Seistow this to me? 260 

In soothnesse or in dreem I herkne this ?" 

"In dremes," quod Valerian, "han we be 

Unto this tyme, brother myn, ywis ; 

But now at erst in trouthe oure dwellyng is." 

"How woostow this," quod Tiburce, "in what wyse?" 265 

Quod Valerian, "That shal I thee devyse. 

e j . __. 

Which thou shalt seen, if that thou wolt reneye 

The ydoles and be clene, and elles naught." 

And of the myracle of thise corones tweye 270 

267 the om. 



Seint Ambrose in his preface list to seye. 
Solempnely this noble doctour deere 
Commendeth it, and seith in this manere; 

The palm of martirdom for to receyve 

Seinte Cecile, fulfild of Goddes yifte, 275 

The world and eek hire chambre gan she weyve, 

Witnesse Tyburces and Valerians shrifte, 

To whiche God of his bountee wolde shifte 

Corones two, of floures wel smellynge, 

And made his angel hem the corones brynge. 280 

The mayde hath broght thise men to blisse above; 

The world hath wist what it is worth, certeyn, 

Devocion of chastitee to love. . . . 

Tho shewed hym Cecile, al open and pleyn, 

That alle y doles nys but a thyng in veyn, 285 

For they been dombe and therto they been deve, 

And charged hym hise ydoles for to leve. 


"Whoso that troweth nat this, a beest he is," 
Quod tho Tiburce, "if that I shal nat lye." 
And she gan kisse his brest, that herde this, 290 

And was ful glad he koude trouthe espye. 
"This day I take thee for myn allye," 
Seyde this blisful faire mayde deere, 
And after that she seyde as ye may heere. 

"Lo, right so as the love of Crist," quod she, 295 

"Made me thy brotheres wyf, right in that wise 
Anon for myn allyee heer take I thee, 
Syn that thou wolt thyne ydoles despise. 
Go with thy brother now, and thee baptise, 
And make thee clene, so that thou mowe biholde 300 

The angeles face of which thy brother tolde." 
278 it hym. 277 Valerians Cecilies. 281 thise om. 


Tiburce answerde and seyde, "Brother deere, 

First tel me whider I shal, and to what man?" 

"To whom?" quod he, "com forth with right good cheere, 

I wol thee lede unto the Pope Urban." 305 

"Til Urban? brother myn Valerian/' ^ 

Quod tho Tiburce, "woltow me thider lede ? 

Me thynketh that it were a wonder dede." 

"Ne menestow nat Urban/' quod he tho, 

"That is so ofte dampned to be deed, 310 

And woneth in halkes alwey to and fro, 

And dar nat ones putte forth his heed ; 

Men sholde hym brennen in a fyr so reed, 

If he were founde, or that men myghte hym spye; 

An*' we also, to bere hym compaignye, 315 

And whil we seken thilke divinitee, 

That is yhid in hevene pryvely, 

Algate ybrend in this world shul we be !" 

To whom Cecile answerde boldely, 

"Men myghten dreden wel and skilfully 320 

This lyf to lese, myn owene deere brother, 

If this were lyvynge oonly and noon oother. 

But ther is bettre lif in oother place, 

That nevere shal be lost, ne drede thee noght, 

Which Goddes sone us tolde thurgh his grace. 325 

That fadres sone hath alle thyng ywroght, 

And al that wroght is with a skilful thoght, 

The goost, that fro the fader gan precede, 

Hath sowled hem, withouten any drede. 

By word and by myracle Goddes Sone, 
Whan he was in this world, declared heere 
That ther was oother lyf ther men may wone." 

308 that I. 


To whom answerde Tiburce, "O suster deere, 

Ne seydestow right now in this manere, 

Ther nys but o God, lord in soothfastnesse, 335 

And now of three how maystow bere witnesse ?" 

"That shal I telle," quod she, "er I go. 

Right as a man hath sapiences three, 

Memorie, engyn, and intellect also, 

So, in o beynge of divinitee 340 

Thre persones may ther right wel bee." 

Tho gan she hym ful bisily to preche 

Of Cristes come, and of hise peynes teche, 

And many pointes of his passioun; 

How Goddes sone in this world was withholde 345 

To doon mankynde pleyn remissioun, 

That was ybounde in synne and cares colde . . . 

Al this thyng she unto Tiburce tolde ; 

And after this, Tiburce in good entente 

With Valerian to Pope Urban he wente; 350 

That thanked God, and with glad herte and light 

He cristned hym, and made hym in that place 

Parfit in his lernynge, Goddes knyght. 

And after this Tiburce gat swich grace 

That every day he saugh in tyme and space 355 

The aungel of God, and every maner boone 

That he God axed, it was sped ful soone. 

It were ful hard by ordre for to seyn 

How manye wondres Jesus for hem wroghte. 

But atte laste, to tellen short and pleyn, 360 

The sergeantz of the toun of Rome hem soghte, 

And hem biforn Almache the Prefect broghte, 

Which hem opposed, and knew al hire entente> 

And to the ymage of Juppiter hem sente, 

340 o om. 


And seyde, "Whoso wol nat sacrifice, 365 

Swap of his heed, this my sentence heer." 

Anon thise martirs that I yow devyse, 

Oon Maximus, that was an officer 

Of the prefectes, and his corniculer, 

Hem hente, and whan he forth the seintes ladde, 370 

Hymself he weepe, for pitee that he hadde. 

Whan Maximus had herd the seintes loore, 

He gat hym of the tormentoures leve, 

And ladde hem to his hous withoute moore. 

And with hir prechyng, er that it were eve, 375 

They gonnen fro the tormentours to reve, 

And fro Maxime, and fro his folk echone 

The false feith, to trowe in God allone. 

Cecile cam whan it was woxen nyght, 

With preestes that hem cristned alle yfeere, 380 

And afterward, whan day was woxen light, 

Cecile hem seyde, with a ful stedefast cheere, 

"Now Cristes owene knyghtes, leeve and deere, 

Cast alle awey the werkes of derknesse 

And armeth yow in armure of brightnesse. 385 

Ye han forsothe ydoon a greet bataille, 

Youre cours is doon, youre feith han ye conserved, 

Gooth to the corone of lif that may nat faille. 

The rightful juge which that ye han served 

Shal yeve it yow as ye han it deserved." 390 

And whan this thyng was seyd as I devyse, 

Men ledde hem forth to doon the sacrefise. 

But whan they weren to the place broght, 

To tellen shortly the conclusioun, 

They nolde encense ne sacrifise right noght, 395 

873 tormentours. 


But on hir knees they setten hem adoun 
With humble herte and sad devocioun, 
And losten bothe hir hevedes in the place. 
Hir soules wenten to the kyng of grace. 

This Maximus that saugh this thyng bityde, 400 

With pitous teeris tolde it anon-right, 

That he hir soules saugh to hevene glyde, 

With aungels ful of cleernesse and of light; 

And with this word converted many a wight. 

For which Almachius dide hym so bete 405 

With whippe of leed, til he the lif gan lete. 

Cecile hym took, and buryed hym anon 

By Tiburce and Valerian softely, 

Withinne hir buriyng place under the stoon, 

And after this Almachius hastily 410 

Bad hise ministres fecchen openly 

Cecile, so that she myghte in his presence 

Doon sacrifice, and Juppiter encense. 

But they, converted at hir wise loore, 

Wepten ful soore, and yaven ful credence 415 

Unto hire word, and cryden moore and moore, 

"Crist, Goddes sone, withouten difference, 

Is verray God, this is al oure sentence, 

That hath so good a servant hym to serve 

This with o voys we trowen, thogh we sterve." 420 

Almachius, that herde of this doynge, 

Bad fecchen Cecile, that he myghte hir see, 

And alderfirst, lo, this was his axynge: 

"What maner womman artow?" tho quod he. 

"I am a gentil womman born," quod she. 425 

"I axe thee," quod he, "though it thee greeve, 

Of thy religioun and of thy bileeve." 

41 s al om. 424 tho om. 


"Ye han bigonne youre question folily," 

Quod she, "that wolden two answeres conclude 

In o demande; ye axed lewedly." 430 

Almache answerde unto that similitude, 

"Of whennes comth thyn answeryng so rude?" 

"Of whennes ?" quod she, whan that she was freyned, 

"Of conscience and of good feith unfeyned." 

Almachius seyde, "Ne takestow noon heede 435 

Of my power ?" and she answerde hym, 

"Youre myght," quod she, "ful litel is to dreede, 

For every mortal mannes power nys 

But lyke a bladdre ful of wynd, ywys ; 

For with a nedles poynt, whan it is blowe, 440 

May al the boost of it be leyd ful lowe." 

"Ful wrongfully bigonne thow," quod he, 

"And yet in wrong is thy perseveraunce ; 

Wostow nat how oure myghty princes free 

Han thus comanded and maad ordinaunce 445 

That every cristen wight shal han penaunce, 

But if that he his cristendom withseye 

And goon al quit, if he wole it reneye ?" 

"Yowre princes erren, as youre nobleye dooth," 

Quod tho Cecile, "and with a wood sentence 450 

Ye make us gilty, and it is nat sooth, 

For ye, that knowen wel oure innocence, 

For as muche as we doon a reverence 

To Crist, and for we bere a cristen name, 

Ye putte on us a cryme, and eek a blame. 455 

But we that knowen thilke name so 
For vertuous, we may it nat withseye." 
Almache answerde, "Chees oon of thise two, 
Do sacrifice, or cristendom reneye, 

451 it om. 


That thou mowe now escapen by that weye." 460 

At wich the hooly blisful faire mayde 
Gan for to laughe, and to the juge sayde, 

"O Juge, confus in thy nycetee, 

Woltow that I reneye innocence, 

To make me a wikked wight," quod shee ; 465 

"Lo, he dissymuleth heere in audience, 

He stareth, and woodeth in his advertence." 

To whom Almachius, "Unsely wrecche, 

Ne woostow nat how far my myght may strecche ? 

Han noght oure myghty princes to me yeven 470 

Ye, bothe power and auctoritee 

To maken folk to dyen or to lyven? 

Why spekestow so proudly thanne to me?" 

'I speke noght but stedfastly," quod she, 

'Nat proudly, for I speke as for my syde, 475 

We haten deedly thilke vice of pryde. 

And if thou drede nat a sooth to heere, 

Thanne wol I shewe al openly by right 

That thou hast maad a f ul gret lesyng heere, 

Thou seyst, thy princes han thee yeven myght 480 

Bothe for to sleen, and for to quyken a wight. 

Thou that ne mayst but oonly lyf bireve, 

Thou hast noon oother power, ne no leve ! 

But thou mayst seyn thy princes han thee maked 
Ministre of deeth, for if thou speke of mo, 485 

Thou lyest, for thy power is ful naked." 
"Do wey thy booldnesse," seyde Almachius tho, 
"And sacrifie to oure goddes er thou go. 
I recche nat what wrong that thou me profre, 
For I can suffre it as a philosophre. 4QO 

467 and he. 


But thilke wronges may I nat endure 

That thou spekest of oure goddes heere," quod he. 

Cecile answerde, "O nyce creature, 

Thou seydest no word, syn thou spak to me, 

That I ne knew therwith thy nycetee, 495 

And that thou were in every maner wise 

A lewed officer and a veyn justise. 

Ther lakketh no thyng to thyne outter eyen 

That thou nart blynd, for thyng that we seen alle 

That it is stoon, that men may wel espyen, 500 

That ilke stoon a god thow wolt it calle. 

I rede thee lat thyn hand upon it falle, 

And taste it wel, and stoon thou shalt it fynde, 

Syn that thou seest nat with thyne eyen blynde. 

It is a shame that the peple shal 505 

So scorne thee, and laughe at thy folye, 

For communly men woot it wel overal 

That myghty God is in hise hevenes hye, 

And thise ymages, wel thou mayst espye, 

To thee ne to hemself mowen noght profite, 510 

For in effect they been nat worth a myte." 

Thise wordes and swiche othere seyde she, 

And he weex wrooth, and bad men sholde hir lede 

Horn til hir hous, and "in hire hous," quod he, 

"Brenne hire right in a bath of flambes rede." 515 

And as he bad, right so was doon in dede, 

For in a bath they gonne hire faste shetten, 

And nyght and day greet fyre they underbetten. 

The longe nyght and eek a day also 
For al the fyr and eek the bathes heete 
She sat al coold, and f eelede no wo ; 
It made hir nat a drope for to sweete. 
510 ne mowen. 521 feeled. 


But in that bath hir lyf she moste lete, 

For he Almachius, with a ful wikke entente, 

To sleen hir in the bath his sonde sente. 525 

Thre strokes in the nekke he smoot hir tho, 

The tormentour, but for no maner chaunce 

He myghte noght smyte al hir nekke atwo. 

And for ther was that tyme an ordinaunce 

That no man sholde doon men swich penaunce 530 

The ferthe strook to smyten, softe or soore, 

This tormentour ne dorste do namoore. 

But half deed, with hir nekke ycorven there, 

He lefte hir lye, and on his wey is went. 

The cristen folk, which that aboute hir were, 535 

With sheetes han the blood ful faire yhent. 

Thre dayes lyved she in this torment, 

And nevere cessed hem the f eith to teche ; 

That she hadde fostred, hem she gan to preche. 

And hem she yaf hir moebles, and hir thyng, 540 

And to the Pope Urban bitook hem tho, 

And seyde, "I axed this at hevene kyng 

To han respit thre dayes, and namo, 

To recomende to yow er that I go 

Thise soules, lo, and that I myghte do werche 545 

Heere of myn hous perpetuelly a cherche." 

Seint Urban with hise deknes prively 

This body fette, and buryed it by nyghte, 

Among hise othere seintes, honestly. 

Hir hous the chirche of seinte Cecilie highte; 550 

Seint Urban halwed it, as he wel myghte, 

In which, into this day, in noble wyse 

Men doon to Crist and to his seinte servyse. 

584 is he. 

Heere is ended the Seconde Nonnes tale. 


The prologe of the Chanouns yemannes tale. 

Whan ended was the lyf of seinte Cecile, 

Er we hadde riden fully fyve mile, 555 

At Boghtoun under Blee us gan atake 

A man, that clothed was in clothes blake, 

And undernethe he wered a whyt surplys. 

His hakeney, which that was al pomely grys, 

So swatte, that it wonder was to see, 560 

It semed as he had priked miles three. 

The hors eek that his yeman rood upon 

So swatte, that unnethe myghte it gon. 

Aboute the peytrel stood the foom ful hye, 

He was of fome al flekked as a pye. 565 

A male tweyfoold upon his croper lay, 

It semed that he caried lite array. 

Al light for somer rood this worthy man, 

And in myn herte wondren I bigan 

What that he was, til that I understood 570 

How tha't his cloke was sowed to his hood; 

For which, whan I hadde longe avysed me, 

I denied hym som Chanoun for to be. 

His hat heeng at his bak doun by a laas, 

For he hadde riden moore than trot or paas ; 575 

He hadde ay priked lik as he were wood. 

A clote-leef he hadde under his hood 

For swoot, and for to kepe his heed from heete. 

But it was joye for to seen hym swete! 

His forheed dropped as a stillatorie 580 

554 ended was toold was al. 558 whyt om. 562 hors hakeney. 569 to 


Were ful of plantayne and of paritorie. 
And whan that he was come, he gan to crye, 
"God save," quod he, "this joly compaignye! 
"Faste have I priked," quod he, "for youre sake, 
By cause that I wolde yow atake, 585 

To riden in this myrie compaignye." 
His Yeman eek was ful of curteisye, 
And seyde, "Sires, now in the morwe tyde 
Out of youre hostelrie I saugh yow ryde, 
And warned heer my lord and my soverayn 590 

Which that to ryden with yow is ful fayn 
For his desport ; he loveth daliaunce." 
"Freend, for thy warnyng God yeve thee good chaunce," 
Thanne seyde oure Hoost, "for certein, it wolde seme 
Thy lord were wys, and so I may wel deme. 5Q5 

He is ful jocunde also, dar I leye. 
Can he oght telle a myrie tale or tweye 
With which he glade may this compaignye?" 
"Who, sire, my lord ? ye, ye, with-outen lye ! 
He kan of murthe and eek of jolitee 600 

Nat but ynough, also, sire, trusteth me. 
And ye hym knewen as wel as do I, 
Ye wolde wondre how wel and craftily 
He koude werke, and that in sondry wise. 
He hath take on hym many a greet emprise, 605 

Which were ful hard for any that is heere 
To brynge aboute, but they of hym it leere. 
As hoomly as he rit amonges yow, 
If ye hym knewe, it wolde be for youre prow, 
Ye wolde nat forgoon his aqueyntaunce 610 

For muchel good, I dar leye in balaunce 
Al that I have in my possessioun. 
He is a man of heigh discrecioun, 
I warne yow wel, he is a passyng man." 
"Wel," quod oure Hoost, "I pray thee. tel me than, 615 
686 this som. 591 that ora. 593 good om. 602 knewe. 


Is he a clerk, or noon ? telle what he is ?" 

"Nay, he is gretter than a clerk, ywis," 

Seyde this Yeman, "and in wordes fewe, 

Hoost, of his craft somwhat I wol yow shewe. 

I seye my lord kan swich subtilitee 620 

But al his craft ye may nat wite for 'me, 

And somwhat helpe I yet to his wirkyng 

That al this ground on which we been ridyng 

Til that we come to Caunterbury toun, 

He koude al dene turne it up so doun 625 

And pave it al of silver and of gold." 

And whan this Yeman hadde this tale ytold 

Unto oure Hoost, he seyde, "Benedicitee, 

This thyng is wonder merveillous to me, 

Syn that thy lord is of so heigh prudence, 630 

By cause of which men sholde hym reverence, 

That of his worship rekketh he so lite. 

His overslope nys nat worth a myte 

As in effect to hym, so moot I go. 

It is al baudy and to-tore also, 635 

Why is thy lord so sluttissh, I the preye, 

And is of power bettre clooth to beye, 

If that his dede accorde with thy speche? 

Telle me that, and that I thee biseche." 

"Why," quod this Yeman, "wherto axe ye me? 640 

God help me so, for he shal nevere thee ! 

But I wol nat avowe that I seye, 

And therfore keepe it secree, I yow preye; 

He is to wys, in f eith, as I bileeve ! 

That that is overdoon, it wol nat preeve 645 

Aright ; as clerkes seyn, it is a vice. 

Wherf ore in that I holde hym lewed and nyce ; 

For whan a man hath over-greet a wit, 

Ful oft hym happeth to mysusen it. 

So dooth my lord, and that me greveth soore. 650 

God it amende^ I kan sey yow namoore." 


"Therof no fors, good Yeman," quod oure Hoost, 

"Syn of the konnyng of thy lord thow woost, 

Telle how he dooth, I pray thee hertely, 

Syn that he is so crafty and so sly. 655 

Where dwelle ye, if it to telle be?" 

"In the suburbes of a toun," quod he, 

"Lurkynge in hernes and in lanes blynde, 

Where as thise robbours and thise theves by kynde 

Holden hir pryvee fereful residence, 660 

As they that dar nat shewen hir presence. 

So faren we if I shal seye the sothe." 

"Now/' quod oure Hoost, "yit lat me talke to the, 

Why artow so discoloured of thy face?" 

"Peter," quod he, "God yeve it harde grace, 665 

I am so used in the fyr to blowe, 

That it hath chaunged my colour, I trowe. 

I am nat wont in no mirour to prie, 

But swynke soore, and lerne multiplie. 

We blondren evere, and pouren in the fir, 670 

And, for al that, we faille of oure desir. 

For evere we lakke of oure conclusioun ; 

To muchel folk we doon illusioun, 

And borwe gold, be it a pound or two, 

Or ten, or twelve, or manye sommes mo, 675 

And make hem wenen at the leeste weye 

That of a pound we koude make tweye. 

Yet is it fals, but ay we han good hope 

It for to doon, and after it we grope. 

But that science is so fer us biforn, 680 

We mowen nat, although we hadden sworn, 

It over-take, it slit awey so faste. 

It wole us maken beggers atte laste." 

Whil this yeman was thus in his talkyng, 

This Chanoun drough hym neer, and herde al thyng 685 

Which this Yeman spak, for suspecioun 

663 talke telle; yit om. 


Of mennes speche evere hadde this Chanoun. 

For Catoun seith, that he that gilty is 

Demeth alle thyng be spoke of hym, ywis. 

That was the cause he gan so ny hym drawe 690 

To his yeman, to herknen al his sawe. 

And thus he seyde unto his yeman tho, 

"Hoold thou thy pees, and spek no wordes mo, 

For if thou do, thou shalt it deere abye. 

Thou sclaundrest me heere in this compaignye, 695 

And eek discoverest that thou sholdest hyde." 

"Ye," quod our Hoost, "telle on, what so bityde, 

Of al his thretyng rekke nat a myte." 

"In feith," quod he, "namoore I do but lyte." 

And whan this Chanoun saugh it wolde nat bee, 700 

But his Yeman wolde telle his pryvetee, 

He fledde awey for verray sorwe and shame. 

"A !" quod the Yeman, "heere shal arise game. 

Al that I kan, anon now wol I telle, 

Syn he is goon^ the foule feend hym quelle! 705 

For nevere heer after wol I with hym meete, 

For peny ne for pound, I yow biheete. 

He that me broghte first unto that game, 

Er that he dye, sorwe have he and shame. 

For it is ernest to me, by my feith, 710 

That feele I wel, what so any man seith. 

And yet, for al my smert and al my grief, 

For al my sorwe, labour, and meschief, 

I koude nevere leve it in no wise. 

Now wolde God, my wit myghte suffise 715 

To tellen al that longeth to that art, 

And nathelees yow wol I tellen part. 

Syn that my lord is goon, I wol nat spare, 

Swich thyng as that I knowe, I wol declare. 

Heere endeth the prologe of the Chanouns yemannes tale. 

706 after om. 711 so that. 



[After a lengthy account of the practice of alchemy by 
his master, the yeoman tells how a priest is beguiled of his 
money by a certain canon through trickery of a hollow rod.] 



Heere folweth the Prologe of the Maunciples tale. 

Woot ye nat where ther stant a litel toun, 
Which that ycleped is Bobbe-up-and-doun 
Under the Blee, in Caunterbury weye ? 
Ther gan oure Hooste for to jape and pleye, 
And seyde, "Sires, what, Dun is in the Myre ! 5 

Is ther no man for preyere ne for hyre, 
That wole awake oure f elawe al bihynde ? 
A theef myghte hym ful lightly robbe and bynde. 
See how he nappeth, see how for Cokkes bones, 
That he wol falle fro his hors atones. 10 

Is that a Cook of London, with meschaunce ? 
Do hym come forth, he knoweth his penaunce, 
For he shal telle a tale, by my fey, 
Although it be nat worth a botel hey. 

Awake, thou Cook," quod he, "God yeve thee sorwe, 15 

What eyleth thee, to slepe by the morwe ? 
Hastow had fleen al nyght, or artow dronke? 
Or hastow with som quene al nyght yswonke 
So that thow mayst nat holden up thyn heed?" 
This Cook that was ful pale, and no thyng reed, 20 

Seyde to oure Hoost, "So God my soule blesse, 
As ther is falle on me swich hevynesse, 
Noot I nat why, that me were levere slepe 
Than the beste galon wyn in Chepe." 

"Wei," qued the Maunciple, "if it may doon ese 25 

To thee, Sire Cook, and to no wight displese 
4 boost. 14 botel. 


Which that heere rideth in this compaignye, 
And that oure Hoost wole of his curteisye, 
I wol as now excuse thee of thy tale, 

For, in good feith, thy visage is ful pale. 30 

Thyne eyen daswen eek, as that me thynketh, 
And wel I woot, thy breeth ful soure stynketh. 
That sheweth wel thou art nat wel disposed, 
Of me, certeyn, thou shalt nat been yglosed. 
See how he ganeth, lo, this dronken wight ! 35 

As though he wolde swolwe us anonright. 
Hoold cloos thy mouth, man, by thy fader kyn, 
The devel of helle sette his foot therin. 
Thy cursed breeth infecte wole us alle, 

Fy, stynkyng swyn ! fy, f oule moote thou f alle ! 40 

A, taketh heede, sires, of this lusty man ! 
Now, sweete sire, wol ye justen atte fan? 
Therto me thynketh ye been wel yshape, 
I trowe that ye dronken han wyn-ape, 

And that is, whan men pleyen with a straw." 45 

And with this speche the Cook wax wrooth and wraw, 
And on the Manciple he gan nodde faste, 
For lakke of speche, and doun the hors hym caste, 
Where as he lay til that men up hym took; 
This was a fair chyvachee of a Cook ! 50 

Alias, he nadde holde hym by his ladel ! 
And er that he agayn were in his sadel 
Ther was greet showvyng bothe to and fro, 
To lifte hym up, and muchel care and wo, 
So unweeldy was this sory palled goost. 55 

And to the Manciple thanne spak oure hoost, 
"By cause drynke hath dominacioun, 
Upon this man, by my savacioun, 
I trowe he lewedly wolde telle his tale. 

For were it wyn, or oold or moysty ale, 60 

That he hath dronke, he speketh in his nose, 
29 as om. 59 lewedly he. 


And fneseth faste, and eek he hath the pose. 

He hath also to do moore than ynough 

To kepen hym and his capul out of slough, 

And if he falle from his capul eftsoone, 65 

Thanne shal we alle have ynogh to doone 

In liftyng up his hevy dronken cors. 

Telle on thy tale, of hym make I no fors; 

But yet, Manciple, in feith thou art to nyce, 

Thus openty repreve hym of his vice. 70 

Another day he wole peraventure 

Reclayme thee and brynge thee to lure. 

I meene he speke wole of smale thynges, 

As for to pynchen at thy rekenynges, 

That were nat honeste, if it cam to preef." 75 

"No," quod the Manciple, "that were a greet mescheef, 

So myghte he lightly brynge me in the snare ; 

Yet hadde I levere payen for the mare, 

Which that he rit on,, than he sholde with me stryve 

I wol nat wratthen hym, al so moot I thryve ; 80 

That that I speke, I seyde it in my bourde. 

And wite ye what, I have heer in a gourde 

A draghte of wyn, ye, of a ripe grape, 

And right anon ye shul seen a good j ape. 

This Cook shal drynke therof if that I may, 85 

Up peyne of deeth, he wol nat seye me nay." 

And certeynly, to tellen as it was, 

Of this vessel the Cook drank f aste ; alias, 

What neded hym ? he drank ynough bif orn ! 

And whan he hadde pouped in this horn, 90 

To the Manciple he took the gourde agayn, 

And of that drynke the Cook was wonder fayn, 

And thanked hym in swich wise as he koude. 

Thanne gan oure Hoost to laughen wonder loude, 

And seyde, "I se wel it is necessarie 95 

Where that we goon, that drynke we with us carie. 

For that wol turne rancour and disese 


Tacord and love and many a wrong apese. 
O thou Bacus, yblessed be thy name, 
That so kanst turnen ernest into game ! 
Worship and thank be to thy deitee ! 
Of that mateere ye gete namoore of me, 
Telle on thy tale, Manciple, I thee preye." 
"Wei, sire," quod he, "now herkneth what I seye.' 
99 thouom 



Heere bigynneth the Maunciples tale of the Crowe. 

Whan Phebus dwelled heere in this world adoun, 105 

As olde bookes maken mencioun, 

He was the mooste lusty bachiler 

In al this world, and eek the beste archer. 

He slow Phitoun the serpent, as he lay 

Slepynge agayn the sonne upon a day; 110 

And many another noble worthy dede 

He with his bowe wroghte, as men may rede. 

Pleyen he koude on every mynstralcie, 

And syngen, that it was a melodic 

To heeren of his cleere voys the soun. 115 

Certes, the kyng of Thebes, Amphioun, 

That with his syngyng walled that citee, 

Koude nevere syngen half so wel as hee. 

Therto he was the semelieste man, 

That is or was sith that the world bigan. 120 

What nedeth it hise f etures to discryve ? 

For in this world was noon so fair on lyve. 

He was therwith fulfild of gentillesse, 

Of honour, and of parfit worthynesse. 

This Phebus that was flour of bachilrie, 125 

As wel in fredom as in chivalrie, 
For his desport, in signe eek of victorie 
Of Phitoun, so as telleth us the storie, 
Was wont to beren in his hand a bowe. 

Now hadde this Phebus in his hous a crowe, 130 

Which in a cage he fostred many a day, 
And taughte it speken as men teche a jay. 
Whit was this crowe, as is a snow-whit swan, 
And countrefete the speche of every man 
132 speke. 133 is om. 


He koude, whan he sholde telle a tale. IS. 1 ) 

Therwith in al this world no nyghtyngale 

Ne koude, by an hondred thousand deel, 

Syngen so wonder myrily and weel. 

Now hadde this Phebus in his hous a wyf 

Which that he lovede moore than his lyf ; 140 

And nyght and day dide evere his diligence 

Hir for to plese and doon hire reverence. 

Save oonly, if the sothe that I shal sayn, 

Jalous he was, and wolde have kept hire fayn, 

For hym were looth by japed for to be 145 

And so is every wight in swich degree ; 

But all in ydel, for it availleth noght. 

A good wyf that is clene of werk and thoght 

Sholde nat been kept in noon awayt, certayn. 

And trewely the labour is in vayn 150 

To kepe a shrewe, for it wol nat bee. 

This holde I for a verray nycetee, 

To spille labour for to kepe wyves, 

Thus writen olde clerkes in hir lyves. 

But now to purpos, as I first bigan: 155 

This worthy Phebus dooth al that he kan 
To plesen hir, wenynge that swich plesaunce, 
And for his manhede and his governaunce, 
That no man sholde han put hym from hire grace. 
But God it woot, ther may no man embrace 1 60 

As to destreyne a thyng, which that nature 
Hath natureelly set in a creature. 
Taak any bryd, and put it in a cage, 
And do al thyn entente and thy corage 

To fostre it tendrely with mete and drynke, 165 

Of alle deyntees that thou kanst bithynke ; 
And keepe it al so clenly as thou may, 
Al though his cage of gold be never so gay, 
Yet hath this brid, by twenty thousand foold, 

143 if om 


Levere in a forest that is rude and coold 170 

Goon etc wormes, and swich wrecchednesse ; 

For evere this brid wol doon his bisynesse 

To escape out of his cage, whan he may. 

His libertee this brid desireth ay. 

Lat take a cat, and fostre hym wel with milk, 175 

And tendre flessh, and make his couche of silk, 

And lat hym seen a mous go by the wal, 

Anon he weyveth milk and flessh and al, 

And every deyntee that is in that hous, 

Swich appetit he hath to etc a mous. 180 

Lo, heere hath lust his dominacioun, 

And appetit fleemeth discrecioun. 

A she wolf hath also a vileyns kynde, 

The lewedeste wolf that she may fynde, 

Or leest of reputacioun wol she take, 185 

In tyme whan hir lust to han a make. 

Alle thise ensamples speke I by thise men, 

That been untrewe, and no thyng by wommen, 

For men han evere a likerous appetit 

On lower thyng to parfourne hire delit, 190 

Than on hire wyves, be they never so faire, 

Ne never so trewe, ne so debonaire. 

Flessh is so newefangel, with meschaunce, 

That we ne konne in no thyng han plesaunce 

That sowneth into vertu any while. 195 

This Phebus, which that thoghte upon no gile, 
Deceyved was, for al his jolitee; 
For under hym another hadde shee, 
A man of litel reputacioun, 

Nat worth to Phebus in comparisoun. 200 

The moore harm is, it happeth ofte so, 
Of which ther cometh muchel harm and wo. 
And so bifel, whan Phebus was absent, 
His wyf anon hath for hir lemman sent; 

173 ivhan if. 185 that wol. 


Hir lemman ? certes, this is a knavyssh speche, 205 

Foryeveth it me, and that I yow biseche. 

The wise Plato seith, as ye may rede, 

"The word moot nede accorde with the dede." 

If men shal telle proprely a thyng, 

The word moot cosyn be to the werkyng. 210 

I am a boystous man, right thus seye I. 

Ther nys no difference trewely 

Bitwixe a wyf that is of heigh degree 

If of hire body dishoneste she bee 

And a povre wenche, oother than this, 215 

If it so be they werke bothe amys, 

But that the gentile in hire estaat above, 

She shal be cleped his lady as in love, 

And for that oother is a povre womman, 

She shal be cleped his wenche, or his lemman; 220 

And God it woot, myn owene deere brother, 

Men leyn that oon as lowe as lith that oother. 

Right so bitwixe a titlelees tiraunt 
And an outlawe, or a theef erraunt, 

The same I seye, ther is no difference. 225 

To Alisaundre was toold this sentence, 
That for the tirant is of gretter myght, 
By force of meynee for to sleen dounright, 
And brennen hous and hoom, and make al playn, 
Lo, therfore is he cleped a capitayn ! 230 

And for the outlawe hath but smal meynee, 
And may nat doon so greet an harm as he, 
Ne brynge a contree to so greet mescheef, 
Men clepen hym an outlawe or a theef. 

But for I am a man noght textueel, 235 

I wol noght telle of textes never a deel; 
I wol go to my tale as I bigan. 

Whan Phebus wyf had sent for liir lemman, 
Anon they wroghten al hir lust volage. 
The white crowe that heeng ay in the cage 210 


Biheeld hire werk, and seyde never a word, 

And whan that hoom was come Phebus the lord, 

This crowe sang, "Cokkow ! Cokkow ! Cokkow !" 

"What, bryd!" quod Phebus, "what song syngestow? 

Ne were thow wont so myrily to synge 245 

That to myn herte it was a rej oysynge 

To heere thy voys ? alias, what song is this ?" 

"By God," quod he, "I synge nat ainys. 

Phebus," quod he, "for al thy worthynesse, 

For al thy beautee and thy gentilesse, 250 

For al thy song and al thy mynstralcye, 

For al thy waityng, blered is thyn eye 

With oon of litel reputacioun 

Noght worth to thee, as in comparisoun 

The montance of a gnat, so moote I thryve, 255 

For on thy bed thy wyf I saugh hym swyve." 

What wol ye moore ? the crowe anon hym tolde, 
By sadde tokenes and by wordes bolde, 
How that his wyf han doon hire lecherye, 
Hym to greet shame and to greet vileynye, 260 

And tolde hym ofte, he saugh it with hise eyen. 
This Phebus gan aweyward for to wryen, 
And thoughte his sorweful herte brast atwo, 
His bowe he bente and sette ther inne a flo, 
And in his ire his wyf thanne hath he slayn. 265 

This is theffect, ther is namoore to sayn, 
For sorwe of which he brak his mynstralcie, 
Bothe harpe, and lute, and gyterne, and sautrie, 
And eek he brak hise arwes and his bowe, 
And after that thus spak he to the crowe. 270 

"Traitour," quod he, "with tonge of scorpioun, 
Thou hast me broght to my confusioun, 
Alias, that I was wroght ! why nere I deed ? 
O deere wyf, O gemme of lustiheed, 
That were to me so sad and eek so trewe, 

251 al om. 254 as om. 


Now listow deed with face pale of hewe, 

Ful giltelees, that dorste I swere, ywys. 

O rakel hand, to doon so foule amys ! 

O trouble wit, O ire recchelees ! 

That unavysed smyteth gilteles. 280 

wantrust, ful of fals suspecioun, 
Where was thy wit and thy discrecioun? 
O, every man, be war of rakelnesse, 

Ne trowe no thyng withouten strong witnesse. 
Smyt nat to soone, er that ye witen why, 285 

And beeth avysed wel and sobrely, 
Er ye doon any execucioun 
Upon youre ire for suspecioun. 
Alias, a thousand folk hath rakel ire 

Fully fordoon, and broght hem in the mire ! 290 

Alias, for sorwe I wol myselven slee !" 
And to the crowe, "O false theef," seyde he, 
"I wol thee quite anon thy false tale ; 
Thou songe whilom lyk a nyghtyngale, 

Now shaltow, false theef, thy song forgon, 295 

And eek thy white fetheres everichon. 
Ne nevere in al thy lif ne shaltou speke, 
i Thus shal men on a traytour been awreke. 
Thou and thyn ofspryng evere shul be blake, 
| Ne nevere sweete noyse shul ye make, 300 

But evere crie agayn tempest and rayn, 
| fn tokenynge that thurgh thee my wyf is slayn." 
\nd to the crowe he stirte, and that anon, 
Vnd pulled hise white fetheres everychon, 

1 Vnd made hym blak, and refte hym al his song, 305 
bid eek his speche, and out at dore hym slong, 

Jnto the devel which I hym bitake ! 

d for this caas been alle Crowes blake. 

Lordynges, by this ensample I yow preye, 
Jeth war and taketh kepe what I seye: 310 

277 giltlees. 280 giltles. 300 noys. 


Ne telleth nevere no man in youre lyf 

How that another man hath dight his wy f ; 

He wol yow haten mortally, certeyn. 

Daun Salomon, as wise clerkes seyn, 

Techeth a man to kepen his tonge weel. 

But as I seyde, I am noght textueel ; 

But nathelees, thus taughte me my dame; 

"My sone, thenk on the crowe, on Goddes name. 

My sone^ keepe wel thy tonge and keepe thy freend, 

A wikked tonge is worse than a feend. 320 

My sone, from a feend men may hem blesse. 

My sone, God of his endelees goodnesse 

Walled a tonge with teeth and lippes eke, 

For man sholde hym avyse what he speeke. 

My sone, ful ofte for to muche speche 325 

Hath many a men been spilt, as clerkes teche. 

But for litel speche, avysely, 

Is no man shent, to speke generally. 

My sone, thy tonge sholdestow restreyne 

At alle tymes, but whan thou doost thy peyne 330 

To speke of God in honour and in preyere; 

The firste vertu sone, if thou wolt leere, 

Is to restreyne and kepe wel thy tonge. 

Thus lerne children, whan that they been yonge, 

My sone, of muchel spekyng yvele avysed, 335 

Ther lasse spekyng hadde ynough suffised, 

Comth muchel harm thus was me toold and taught. 

In muchel speche synne wanteth naught. 

Wostow wherof a rakel tonge serveth? 

Right as a swerd forkutteth and forkerveth 340 

An arm atwo, my deere sone, right so 

A tonge kutteth freendshipe al atwo. 

A j angler is to God abhomynable; 

Reed Salomon, so wys and honurable, 

Reed David in hise psalmes, reed Senekke ! 345 

331 in om. 



My sone, spek nat, but with thyn heed thou bekke; 
Dissimule as thou were deef, if that thou heere 
A j angler speke of perilous mateere. 
The Flemyng seith, and lerne it if thee leste, 
That litel janglyng causeth muchel reste. 350 

My sone, if thou no wikked word hast seyd, 
Thee thar nat drede for to be biwreyd ; 
But he that hath mysseyd, I dar wel sayn, 
He may by no wey clepe his word agayn. 
Thyng that is seyd is seyd, and forth it gooth; 355 

Though hym repente, or be hym leef or looth, 
He is his thral to whom that he hath sayd 
I A tale, of which he is now yvele apayd. 
My sone, be war, and be noon auctour newe 
Of tidynges, wheither they been false or trewe, 360 

Wlierso thou come, amonges hye or lowe, 
|Kepe wel thy tonge, and thenk upon the Crowe." 

Heere is ended the Maunciples tale of the Crowe. 



Heere folweth the Prologe of the Persouns tale. 

By that the Maunciple hadde his tale al ended, 

The sonne fro the south lyne was descended 

So lowe, that he nas nat to my sighte 

Degrees nyne and twenty as in highte. 

Ten of the clokke it was tho, as I gesse, 5 

For ellevene foot, or litel moore or lesse, 

My shadwe was at thilke tyme as there, 

Of swiche feet as my lengthe parted were 

In sixe feet equal of proporcioun. 

Therwith the moones exaltacioun, 10 

I meene Libra, alwey gan ascende, 

As we were entryng at a thropes ende. 

For which our Hoost, as he was wont to gye, 

As in this caas, oure joly compaignye, 

Seyde in this wise, "Lordynges everichoori, 15 

Now lakketh us no tales mo than oon, 

Fulfilled is my sentence and my decree ; 

I trowe that we han herd of ech degree. 

Almoost fulfild is al myn ordinaunce, 

I pray to God, so yeve hym right good chaunce 

That telleth this tale to us lustily! 

"Sire preest," quod he, "artow a vicary, 

Or arte a person? sey sooth by thy fey. 

Be what thou be, ne breke thou nat oure pley ; 

For every man save thou hath toold his tale. 

Unbokele and shewe us what is in thy male, 

For trewely, me thynketh by thy cheere 


Thou sholdest knytte up wel a greet mateere. 

Telle us a fable anon, for Cokkes bones." 

This Persoun him answerede, al atones, 30 

"Thou getest fable noon ytoold for me, 

For Paul, that writeth unto Thymothee, 

Repreveth hem that weyveth soothfastnesse, 

And tellen fables, and swich wrecchednesse. 

Why sholde I sowen draf out of my fest 35 

Whan I may sowen whete, if that me lest? 

For which I seye, if that yow list to heere, 

Moralitee and vertuous mateere; 

And thanne that ye wol yeve me audience, 

I wolful fayn, at Cristes reverence, 40 

Do yow plesaunce leefful, as I kan. 

But trusteth wel I am a southren man, 

I kan nat geeste Rum, Ram, Ruf by lettre, 

Ne, God woot, rym holde I but litel bettre, 

And therfore if yow list, I wol nat glose, 45 

I wol yow telle a myrie tale in prose 

To knytte up al this f eeste, and make an ende, 

And Jesu, for his grace, wit me sende 

To shewe yow the wey, in this viage, 

Of thilke parfit glorious pilgrymage 50 

That liighte Jerusalem celestial. 

And if ye vouchesauf, anon I shal 

Bigynne upon my tale, for which I preye, 

Telle youre avys, I kan no bettre seye. 

But nathelees, this meditacioun 55 

I putte it ay under correccioun 

Of clerkes, for I am nat textueel ; 

I take but sentence, trusteth weel. 

Therfore I make a protestacioun 

That I wol stonde to correccioun." 60 

Upon this word we han assented soone; 
For, as us semed, it was for to doone 

80 him om.; answerde. 40 ful om. 


To enden in som vertuous sentence, 

And for to yeve hym space and audience ; 

And bede oure Hoost he sholde to hym seye 65 

That alle we to telle his tale hym preye. 

Oure Hoost hadde the wordes for us alle: 

"Sire preest," quod he, "now faire yow bifalle, 

Sey what yow list, and we wol gladly heere." 

And with that word he seyde in this manere, 70 

"Telleth," quod he, "youre meditacioun; 

But hasteth yow, the sonne wole adoun. 

Beth fructuous, and that in litel space, 

And to do wel God sende yow his grace." 

[Then follows the Persones Tale, concerning penitence, 
vices and virtues, and holy living. At the end appears the 
retractation^ so-called, of Chaucer.] 

Here taketh the makere of this book his leve. 

Now preye I to hem alle that herkne this litel 
tretys or rede,, that if ther be any thyng in it that 
liketh hem, that therof they thanken oure Lord Jesu 
Crist, of whom procedeth al wit and al goodnesse. 
And if ther be any thyng that displese hem, I preye 1085 
hem also that they arrette it to the defaute of myn 
unkonnynge, and nat to my wyl, that wolde ful fayn 
have seyd bettre, if I hadde had konnynge. For oure 
Boke seith, 'al that is writen, is writen for oure 
doctrine/ and that is myn entente. Wherfore, I 10QO 
biseke yow mekely for the mercy of God, that ye 
preye for me that Crist have mercy on me, and 
foryeve me my giltes ; and namely, of my translacions 
and enditynges of worldly vanitees, the whiche I 
revoke in my retracciouns ; 1095 

As is the book of Troilus, The book also of Fame, 
The book of the .xxv. Ladies, The book of the 
Duchesse, The book of seint Valentynes day of the 
Parlement of Briddes, The tales of Caunterbury 
(thilke that sownen into synne), The book of the 1100 
Leoun, and many another book, if they were in my 
remembrance; and many a song and many a lec- 
cherous lay, that Crist for his grete mercy foryeve 
me the synne. But of the translacion of Boece de 
Consolacione, and othere bookes of Legendes of 1105 
Seintes and omelies, and moralitee, and devocioun; 
that thanke I oure Lord Jesu Crist, and his blisful 
mooder, and alle the seintes of hevene; bisekynge 
hem that they from hennes forth unto my lyves ende 
sende me grace to biwayle my giltes, and to studie 1110 
to the salvacioun of my soule; and graunte me grace 
of verray penitence, confessioun, and satisfaccioun to 


doon in this present lyf, thurgh the benigne grace of 
Hym, that is kyng of kynges, and preest over alle 
preestes, that boghte us with the precious blood of 1115 
his herte, so that I may been oon of hem at the day 
of doome that shulle be saved. Qui cum patre, 

Heere is ended the book of the tales of Caunterbury com 
piled by Geffrey Chaucer of whos soule Jesu Crist have 
mercy. Amen. 


Pite, that I have sought so yore agoo 

With herte soore, and ful of besy peyne, 

That in this worlde was never wight so woo 

Withoute dethe; and yf I shal not feyne, 

My purpose was to Pite to compleyne, 5 

Upon the crueltee and tirannye 

Of Love, that for my trouthe doth me dye. 

And when that I, be lengthe of certeyne yeres, 

Had evere in oon a tyme soughte to speke, 

To Pitee ran I, al bespreynte with teres, 10 

To prayen hir on Cruelte me awreke. 

But er I myght with any worde out breke, 

Or tellen any of my peynes smerte, 

I fonde hir dede, and buried in an herte. 

Adoune I fel, when that I saugh the herse, 15 

Dede as a stone, while that the swogh me laste; 

But up I roose, with coloure ful dyverse, 

And petously on hir myn eyen caste, 

And ner the corps I gan to presen faste, 

And for the soule I shope me for to prey ; 20 

I nas but lorne, ther was no more to sey. 

Thus am I slayne, sith that Pite is dede, 

Alias that day, that ever hyt shuld falle ! 

What maner man dar now hold up his hede ? 

To whom shal eny sorwful herte calle? 25 

Now Cruelte hath caste to slee us alle 

In ydel hope, folke redelesse of peyne, 

Syth she is dede, to whom shul we compleyne? 

2 hert. 15 that om. 16 a om. 18 I caste. 19 to om. 21 nas was 
25 shal now. 


But yet encreseth me this wonder newe, 

That no wight woot that she is dede, but I. 30 

So mony men as in her tyme hir knewe ; 

And yet she dyed not so sodeynly, 

For I have sought hir ever ful besely, 

Sith firste I hadde witte or mannes mynde, 

But she was dede, er that I koude hir fynde. 35 

Aboute hir herse there stoden lustely, 

Withoute any woo, as thoughte me, 

Bounte parfyt, wel armed and richely, 

And fresshe Beaute, Lust and Jolyte, 

Assured Maner, Youthe and Honeste, 40 

Wisdome, Estaat, Drede and Governaunce, 

Confedred both by bonde and alliaunce. 

A compleynt had I writen in myn honde, 

For to have put to Pittee as a bille ; 

But when I al this companye ther fonde 45 

That rather wolden al my cause spille 

Then do me helpe, I helde my pleynte stille, 

For to that folke, with-outen any fayle, 

Withoute Pitee ther may no bille availe. 

Then leve I al thise vertues, save Pite, 50 

Kepynge the corps, as ye have herde me seyn, 

Cofedered alle by bonde of Cruelte, 

And ben assented when I shal be sleyn. 

And I have put my complaynt up ageyn, 

For to my foes my bille I dar not shewe, 55 

Theffect of which seith thus, in wordes fewe: 

32 she, so om. 84 mannes om.; I hadde firste. 35 that om. 44 For om. 
46 wolde. 47 pleynt. 48 withoutes. 50 I we; thise om.; save oonly. 
52 alle om.; of and by. 


[The Bill of Complaint.] (Tern I.) 

Humblest of herte, highest of reverence, 

Benygne flour, coroune of vertues alle, 

Sheweth unto youre rialle excellence 

Youre servaunt, yf I durste me so calle, 60 

Hys mortal harme, in which he is yfalle, 

And noght al oonly for his evel fare, 

But for your renoun, as he shal declare. 

Hit stondeth thus, your contraire, Crueltee 

Allyed is ayenst your regalye 65 

Under colour of womanly beaute, 

For men shulde not knowe hir tirannye, 

With Bounte, Gentilesse, and Curtesye, 

And hath depryved yow now of your place 

That hyght "Beaute apertenent to Grace." 70 

For kyndely, by youre herytage ryght, 

Ye be annexed ever unto Bounte, 

And verrely ye oughte do youre myght 

To helpe Trouthe in his adversyte. 

Ye be also the corowne of Beaute, 7-5 

And certes, yf ye wanten in these tweyn, 

The worlde is lore, ther is no more to seyn. 

(Tern II.) 

Eke what availeth Maner and Gentilesse 

Withoute yow, benygne creature? 

Shal Cruelte be your governeresse ? 80 

Alias, what herte may hyt longe endure? 

Wherfore, but ye the rather take cure 

To breke that perilouse alliaunce, 

Ye sleen hem that ben in your obeisaunce. 

60 durst. to that your contrary. 09 now om. 70 is hygh; your grace 
76 want. 


And further over, yf ye suffre this, 85 

Youre renoun ys f ordoo than in a throwe ; 

Ther shal no man wete well what Pite is. 

Alias, that your renoun is f alle so lowe ! 

Ye be also fro youre heritage y-throwe 

By Cruelte, that occupieth youre place, 90 

And we despeyred that seken to your grace. 

Have mercy on me, thow Herenus quene, 

That yow have sought so tendirly and yore, 

Let somme streme of lyght on me be sene, 

That love and drede yow, ever lenger the more, 95 

For sothely for to seyne, I bere the soore; 

And though I be not kunnynge for to pleyne, 

For Goddis love, have mercy on my peyne. 

(Tern III.) 

My peyne is this, that what so I desire, 

That have I not, ne no thing lyke therto; 100 

And ever setteth desire myn hert on fire. 

Eke on that other syde where so I goo, 

What maner thinge that may encrese my woo, 

That have I redy unsoghte every where. 

Me lakketh but my deth, and than my bere. 105 

What nedeth to shewe parcel of my peyne, 

Syth every woo that herte may bethynke 

I suffre, and yet I dar not to yow pleyne? 

For wel I wote, though I wake or wynke, 

Ye rekke not whether I flete or synke; 110 

But natheles my trouthe I shal sustene 

Unto my deth, and that shal wel be sene. 

86 than om. 88 that ever. 91 speken. 96 the so. 102 sydes. 
110 whether where. Ill yet my. 


This is to seyne, I wol be y cures ever 
Though ye me slee by Crueltee your foo, 
Algate my spirite shal never dissever 115 

Fro youre servise, for eny peyne or woo. 
Sith ye be ded, alias, that hyt is soo ! 
Thus for your deth I may wel wepe and pleyne, 
With herte sore and ful of besy peyne. 
114 foo soo. 117 yet ded. 


I have grete wonder, be this lyghte, 
How that I lyve, for day ne nyghte 
I may nat slepe wel nygh noght, 
I have so many an ydel thoght 

Purely for defaulte of slepe, 5 

That by my trouthe I take no kepe 
Of noo thinge, how hyt cometh or gooth, 
Ne me nys nothynge leve nor looth. 
Al is ylyche goode to me, 

Joy or sorowe, wherso hyt be, 10 

For I have felynge in no thynge, 
But as yt were a mased thynge 
Alway in poynt to falle a-doun, 
For sorwful ymagynacioun 

Ys alway hooly in my mynde. 15 

And wel ye woote, agaynes kynde 
Hyt were to lyven in thys wyse, 
For Nature wolde nat suffyse 
To noon erthely creature 

Nat longe tyme to endure 20 

Withoute slepe, and be in sorwe. 
And I ne may^ no nyght ne morwe, 
Slepe, and thys melancolye 
And drede I have for to dye, 
Defaulte of slepe, and hevynesse, 
Hath sleyne my spirite of quyknesse, 
That I have loste al lustyhede. 
Suche fantasies ben in myn hede, 
So I not what is best too doo. 
But men myght axe me, why soo 
I may not sleepe, and what me is ? 
26 sleyne om. Lines 31-96 are written in this MS. in a hand of perhaps 15fj 



But natheles, whoe aske this 

Leseth his asking trewely. 

Myselven can not telle why 

The southe, but trewly, as I gesse, 35 

I holde it be a sicknes 

That I have suffred this eight yeere; 

And yet my boote is never the nere, 

Thatniay meTieale, but that is done. 40 

Passe we over untill efte; 

That will not be, mote nedes be lefte. 

Our first mater is good to kepe. 

Soe when I sawe I might not slepe 

Til now late, this other night, 45 

Upon my bedde I sate upright, 

And bade one reche me a booke, 

A romaunce, and it me tok 

To rede, and drive the night away; 

For me thought it beter play 50 

Then playen either at chesse or tables. 

And in this boke were written fables 

That clerkes had in olde tyme, 

And other poets, put in rime 

To rede, and for to be in minde, 55 

While men loved the lawe of kinde. 

This boke ne speake, but of such thinges, 

Of quenes lives, and of kinges, 

And many other thinges smalle. 

Amonge all this, I fonde a tale 60 

That me thought a wonder thing. 

This was the tale : There was a king 

That hight Seyes, and had a wife 

The beste that might beare lyfe, 

And this quene hight Alcyone. 65 

82 nathles. 83 trewly. 84 tell. 36 hold. 89 is. 51 play. 56 of in. 
58 kings 59 things. 64 best. 


Soe it befill, thereafter soone, 

This king wol wenden over see. 

To tellen shortly, whan that he 

Was in the see, thus in this wise, 

Soche a tempest gan to rise 70 

That brake her maste and made it fal, 

And cleft ther ship, and dreint hem all, 

That never was founden, as it telles, 

Borde, ne man, ne nothing elles. 

Right thus this king Seyes loste his life. 75 

Now for to speaken of his wife, 

This lady, that was left at home, 

Hath wonder, that the king ne come 

Home, for it was a longe terme. 

Anone her herte began to erme, 80 

And for that her thought evermo 

It was not wele he dwelled soe, 

She longed soe after the king 

That certes, it were a pitous thing 

To tell her hartely sorowfull life 

That had, alias, this noble wife, 

For him she loved alderbeste. 

Anone she sent bothe eeste and weste 

To seke him, but they founde nought. 

"Alas!" (quoth shee) "that I was wrought! 

And where my lord, my love, be deed? 

Certes I will never eate breede, 

I make a vowe to my god here, 

But I mowe of my lord here." 

Soche sorowe this lady to her toke 95 

That trewly I, which made this booke, 

Had suche pittee and suche rowthe 

To rede hir sorwe, that by my trowthe 

I ferde the worse al the morwe 

67 woll. 73 founde. 76 speake of Alcyone. 79 long. 80 erme 
82 he dwelled her thought. 86 she had ; alias om. 87 alas she. 


Aftir, to thenken on hir sorwe. 100 

So whan this lady koude here noo worde 

That no man myghte fynde hir lorde, 

Ful ofte she s wormed, and sayed alas ! 

For sorwe ful nygh woode she was, 

Ne she koude no rede but oon, 105 

But doune on knees she sate anoon, 

And weep that pittee was to here. 

"A ! mercy ! swete lady dere !" 

Quod she to Juno, hir goddesse; 

"Helpe me out of thys distresse, 110 

And yeve me grace my lord to se 

Soone, or wete wher so he be, 

Or how he fareth, or in what wise, 

And I shal make yowe sacrifise, 

And hooly youres become I shal 115 

With good wille, body, hert, and al. 

And but thow wilte this, lady swete, 

Sende me grace to slepe, and mete 

In my slepe somme certeyn sweven, 

Wher-thorgh that I may knowe even 120 

Whethir my lorde be quyke or ded." 

With that worde she henge doun the lied. 

And f elle a-swowne as colde as ston. 

Hyr women kaught hir up anoon, 

And broghten hir in bed al naked; 125 

And she, forweped and forwaked, 

Was wery, and thus the dede slepe 

Fil on hir, or she tooke kepe, 

Throgh Juno that had herde hir bone, 

That made hir to slepe sone, ISO 

For as she prayede ryght so was done 

In dede, for Juno ryght anone 

Called thus hir messagere 

To doo hir erande, and he come nere. 

100 and aftir. 102 myght. 107 wepe. 109 to om. 127 ded. 


Whan he was come she bad hym thus, 135 

"Go bet," quod Juno, "to Morpheus 

Thou knowest hym wel, the god of slepe 

Now understonde wel, and take kepe, 

Sey thus on my halfe, that he 

Go faste into the grete se, 140 

And byd hym, that on alle thynge, 

He take up Seys body the kynge, 

That lyeth ful pale and no thynge rody. 

Byd hym crepe into the body 

And doo hit goon to Alcione, 145 

The quene, ther she lyeth allone, 

And shewe hir shortly, hit ys no nay, 

How hit was dreynt thys other day; 

And do the body speke soo 

Ryght as hyt was woned to doo, 150 

The whiles that hit was a-lyve. 

Goo now faste, and hye the blyve." 

This messager toke leve, and went 

Upon hys wey, and never ne stent 

Til he come to the derke valey 155 

That stant betwexe roches twey, 

Ther never yet grew corne ne gras, 

Ne tre, ne nothyng that oughte was, 

Beste, ne man, ne nothyng elles, 

Save ther were a fewe welles 160 

Came rennynge fro the clyffes adoun 

That made a dedely slepynge soun, 

And ronnen doun ryght by a cave, 

That was under a rokke ygrave, 

Amydde the valey, wonder depe, 165 

There these goddys lay and slepe, 

Morpheus and Eclvmij^tejpi^ 

That was the goa of slepes eyre, 

141 al. 142 That he. 144 Bud. 145 Alchione. 148 ryght soo. 156 betwex. 
158, 159 nothyng noght. 


That slepe and did noon other werke. 

This cave was also as derke ^ 1^170 

As helle pitte, over al aboute, 

They had good leyser for to route, 

To envye who mygh^lepe beste 

er cnyn upon mr breste, 
And slept upryght, hir hed yhedde, 
And somme lay naked in her bedde, 
And slepe, whiles the dayes laste. 
This messager come fleynge faste, 
And cried, "O how! a-wake anoon!" 
Hit was for noght, there herde hym non. 
"Awake," quod he, "whoo ys, lythe there i 
And blew his home ryght in here eere, 
And cried, "awaketh!" wonder hye. J 
This god of slepe with hys on ye 

Caste up, and axed, "who clepeth there?" 185 

"Hyt am I !" quod this messagere, 
"Juno bad thow shuldest goon" 
And tolde hym what he shulde doon, 
As I have tolde yow here to-fore, 

Hyt ys no nede reherse hyt more; 190 

And went hys wey whan he had sayede. 
Anoon this god of slepe abrayede 
Out of hys slepe, and gan to goon, 
And dyd as he had bede hym doon, 

Tooke up the dreynte body sone, 195 

And bare hyt forth to Alcione, 
Hys wife the quene, ther as she lay, 
Ryght even a quarter before day ; 
And stood ryght at hys beddys fete, 

And called hir ryght as she hete, 200 

By name, and sayede, "My swete wyfe, 
Awake, let be your sorwful lyfe, 
For in your sorwe there lyth no rede, 
182 heere. U5 dreynt. 196 Alchione. 


For certes, swete, I nam but dede, 

Ye shul me, never on lyve yse. 205 

But gopd swete herte, look that ye 
Bury my body, for suche a tyde 
Ye mowe hyt fynde, the see besyde ; 
And f arewel, swete, my worldes blysse ! 

I praye God youre sorwe lysse; 210 

To lytel while oure blysse lasteth !" 
With that hir eyen up she casteth, 
"'And sawe noght. "Alias !" quod she for sorwe, 
And deyede within the thridde morwe. 

But what she sayede more in that swowe 215 

I may not telle yow as nowe, 
Hyt were to longe for to dwelle, 

My firatmatere I wil yow telle, 


Wherfore 1 have tolde this thynge 

Of Alcione and Seys the kynge. 220 

For thus moche dar I saye welle, 

I had be dolven everydelle, 

And ded ryght thorgh defaulte of slepe, 

Yif I ne had redde and take kepe 

Of this tale next before. 225 

And I wol telle yow wherf ore ; 

For I ne myght, for bote ne bale, 

Slepe or I had redde thys tale 

Of this dreynte Seys the kynge, 

And of the goddis of slepynge. 230 

Whan I had redde thys tale wel, 

And over loked hyt everydel, 

Me thoght wonder y f hit were so ; 

For I had never herde speke or tho 

Of noo goddis that koude make 

Men to slepe, ne for to wake, 

For I ne knewe never God but oon. 


204 am. 206 hert; look om, 210 pray. 215 swowe sorowe. 220 Alchione. 
221 say. 226 I om. 



And in my game I sayede anoon 
And jtet me lyst ryght evel to pley 
"Rather then that y shulde dey 
Thorgh defaulte of slepynge thus, 
I wolde yive thilke Morpheus 
Or hys goddesse, dame Juno, 
Or somme wight ellis, I ne roght who, 
To make me slepe and have some reste, 
I wil yive hym the alderbeste 


Of downe of pure dowves white 
I wil yif hym a feder bedde, 
Rayed with golde and ryght wel cledde 
In fyne blak satyn de owter mere, 
And many a pelowe, and every here 
Of clothe of Reynes to slepe softe, 
Hym thar hot Aede to turnen of te ; 
And I wol yive hym al that f allys 
To a chambre, and al hys hallys 
I wol do peynte with pure golde, 
And tapite hem ful many folde 
Of oo sute, this shal he have, 
Yf I wiste where were hys cave, 
Yf he kan make me slepe sone, 
As did the goddesse quene Alcione ; 
And thus this ylke god Morpheus 
May wynne of me moo fees thus, 
Than ever he wanne, and to Juno 
That ys hys goddesse I shal soo do, 
I trow, that she shal holde hir payede." 
JI hadde unneth that worde y-sayede, 
Ryght thus I have tolde hyt yow, 

rhat sodeynly, I nyste how, 
64 Alchione. 










Suche a luste anoon me tooke 
To slepe, that ryght upon my booke 
Y fil aslepe, and therwith evene 
Me mette so ynly swete a swevene, 
So wonder luJL^Tn^^iieveryitte 
Y trowe no man had the wytte 
To konne wel. my sweven rede; 

lo, notlJ osepfil withoute drede, 

red so 

The kynges metynge, Pharao ; 
No more than koude the lest of us, 

Eetnat wrote al thavysyxTun 
That he mette, kynge Scipioun, 
The noble man, the Affrikan, 
Swiche mervayles fortuned than 
I trowe, a-rede my dremes even. 
Loo, thus hyt was, thys was my sweven. 

Me thoghte thus : that hyt was May, - 
And in the dawenynge I lay, 
Me mette thus, in my bed al naked, 
And loked forth, for I was waked 
With smale foules a grete hepe, 
That had affrayed me out of slepe 
Thorgh noyse and swettenesse of her songe. 
And as me mette, they sate a-monge 
Upon my chambre roofe wythoute, 
Upon the tyles over al aboute, 
And songen everych in hys wyse, 
The moste solempne servise, 
By noote, that ever man, y trowe, 
Had herde, for somme of hem songe lowe, 
Somme high, and al of oon acorde. 
To telle shortly, att oo worde, 
Was never harde so swete a steven, 

278 trow. 291 thoght. 292 dawnynge. 296 of my. 298 as al. 801 songe. 




& * 4 

But hyt had be a thynge of heven, 
So mery a soune, so swete entewnes; 

That certes, for the toune of Tewnes, 310 

I nolde but I had herde hem synge, 
For al my chambre gan to rynge 
Thorgh syngynge of her armonye. 
For instrument nor melodye 

Was nowhere herde yet halfe so swete, 315 

Nor of acorde halfe so mete; 
For ther was noon of hem that feyned 
To synge, for eche of hem hym peyned 
To fynde out mery crafty notys, 

They ne spared not her throtys. 320 

And soothe to seyn, my chambre was 
Ful wel depeynted, and with glas 
Were al the wyndowes wel yglasyd 
Ful clere, and nat an hoole ycrasyd, 

That to beholde hyt was grete joye. 325 

For holy al the story of Troye 
Was in the glasynge ywroght thus, 
Of Ector and of kynge Priamus, 
Of Achilles and Lamedoun 

And eke of Medea and of Jasoun, 330 

Of Paris, Eleyne, and of Lavyne. 
And alle the wallys with colouris fyne 
Were peynted, bothe text, and glose, 
And al the Romaunce of the Rose. 

My wyndowes were shette echon, 335 

And throgh the glas the sonne shon 
Upon my bed with bryghte bemys, 
With many glade gilde stremys, 
And eke the welken was so faire, 

Blew, bryght, clere was the ayre, 840 

And ful attempre, for sothe, hyt was, 
For nother to colde nor hoote yt nas, 

819 of mery. 829 and of kynge. 842 was. 


in al the welkene was a clowde. 
And as I lay thus, wonder lowde 
Me thoght I herde an hunte blowe, 
Tassay hys home, and for to knowe 
Whether hyt were clere or horse of soune. 
And I herde goynge bothe up and doune 
Men, hors, houndes, and other thynge, 
And al men speken of huntynge, 
How they wolde slee the hert, with strengthe, 
And how the hert had upon lengthe, 
So moche embosed, y not now what. 
Anoon, ryght whan I herde that, 
How that they wolde on huntynge goon, 
was ryght glad, and up anoon 
ooke my hors and forthe I went 
ut of my chambre, I never stent 
Til I come to the felde withoute. 
Ther overtoke y a grete route 
Of huntes and eke of foresterys, 
With many relayes and lymerys, 
And hyed hem to the forest faste, 
And I with hem; so at the laste 
I asked oon, ladde a lymere, 
"Say, felowe, whoo shal hunte here?" 
Quod I, and he answered ageyn, 
"Syr, themperour Octovyen," 
Quod he, "and ys here faste by." 
"A Goddys halfe, in goode tyme," quod I, 
"Go we faste !" and gan to ryde, 
Whan we came to the forest syde, 
Every man didde ryght anoon 
As to huntynge fille to doon. 
The mayster hunte anoon, fote hote, 
With a grete home blewe thre mote 
At the uncoupylynge of hys houndys. 

850 speke. 862 may. 364 I om. 369 fast. 










Withynne a while the herte f ounde ys, 
Ihalowed, and rechased faste 
Longe tyme, and so at the laste 
This hert rused, and staale away 
Fro alle the houndes a prevy way. 
The houndes had overshette hem alle, 
And were on a defaulte yfalle. 
Therwyth the hunte wonder faste 
Blewe a forleygne at the laste. 
I was go walked fro my tree, 
And as I went, ther came by mee 

A 'wrnplrifa "hn^i" T i\ n n p/l_ixi nc T ctrin/if^ 



That hadde yfolowed, and koude no goode. 

Hyt come and crepte to me as lowe, 

Ryght as hyt had me yknowe, 

Hylde doun hys hede, and j oyned hys erys, 

And leyde al smothe doun hys herys. 

I wolde have kaught hyt, and anoon 

Hyt fled, and was fro me goon; 

And I hym folwed, and hyt forthe went 

Doune by a floury grene went 

Ful thikke of gras ful softe and swete, 

With flourys fele, faire under fete, 

And litel used hyt semed thus, 

For both Flora and Zephirus, 

They two that make floures growe, 

Had made her dwellynge ther, I trowe 

For hit was, on to beholde, 

As thogh therthe envye wolde 

To be gayer than the heven, 

To have moo floures, swche 1 seven 

As in the welkene sterris bee. 

Hyt had forgete the povertee 

That wynter, thorgh hys colde morwes, 





a See Glossary. 
888 hem hym. 

884 upon. 409 walkene. 


Had made hyt suffre, and his sorwes; 
All was forgeten, and that was sene, 
For al the woode was waxen grene, 
Swetnesse of dewe had made hyt waxe. 415 

Hyt ys no nede eke for to axe 
Where there were many grene greves, 
Or thikke of trees so ful of leves, 
And every tree stoode by hym selve 
Fro other wel tene fete or twelve. 420 

So grete trees, so huge of strengthe, 
Or fourty, fifty fedme lengthe, 
Clene withoute bowgh or stikke, 
With croppes brode, and eke as thikke, 

They were nat an ynche asonder, 425 

That hit was shadewe over al under, 
And many an herte and many an hynde 
Was both before me and be-hynde. 
Of founes, sowres, bukkes, does, 

Was ful the woode, and many roes 430 

And many sqwireles that sete 
Ful high upon the trees and etc, 
And in hir maner made festys. 
Shortly, hyt was so ful of bestys, 

That thogh Argus, the noble counter, 435 

Sete to rekene in hys counter, 
And rekene with his figuris ten 
For by tho figuris mowe al ken 
Yf they be crafty, rekene and noumbre, 

And tel of every thinge the noumbre 440 

Yet shulde he fayle to rekene evene 
The wondres, me mette in my swevene. 
But forth they romed ryght wonder faste 
Doune the woode, so at the laste 

I was war of a man in blak, 445 

That sete and had yturned his bak 
420 or fro other. 424 brode bothe. 431 sqwirels. 446 turned. 



To an ooke, an huge tree. 

"Lorde/' thoght I, "who may that be? 

What ayleth hym to sitten here?" 

Anoon ryght I wente nere ; 450 

Than founde I sitte even upryght, 

A wonder wel-farynge knyght 

By the maner me thoghte soo 

Of good mochel, and ryght yonge therto, 

Of the age of foure and twenty yere. 455 

Upon hys berde but lytel here, 

And he was clothed al in blake. 

I stalked even unto hys bake, 

And ther I stoode as stille as ought, 

That, soth to saye, hesaw^nejj^gt 

For why, he henge hys hede acToune, 

And with a dedely sorwful soune 

He made of ryme ten vers or twelfe, 

Of a compleynt to hymselfe, 

The moste pitee, the moste rowthe, 

That ever I herde, for, by my trowthe, 

Hit was gret wonder that nature 

Myght suffre any creature 

To have suche sorwe, and be not ded, 

Ful petouse, pale, and nothynge red. 470 

He sayed a lay, a maner songe, 

Withoute noote, withoute songe, 

And was thys, for ful wel I kan 

Reherse hyt ; ryght thus hyt began. 

The Lay. 

"I have of sorwe so grete wone 475 

; That joye gete I never none, 

Now that I see my lady bryght, 
Which I have loved with al my myght, 
Is fro me ded, and ys a-goon. 

450 went. 453 thoght. 472 One MS. gives and hit. 476 joy. 





Alias, dethe, what ayleth the? 
That thou noldest have taken me 

Whan thou toke my lady swete, 

That was so faire, so freshe, so fre, 
*So goode, that men may wel se 

Of al goodenesse she had no mete !" 

Whan he had made thus his complaynte, 
Hys sorwful hert gan faste faynte, 
And his spiritis wexen dede. 
The bloode was fled, for pure drede, 
Doune to hys Jiert, to make hym warme, 
For wel hyt eled the hert had harme, 
To wete eke why hyt was adrad 
By kynde, and for to make hyt glad; 
For hit ^Jjjfembre principal 
Of the body ; and that made al 
Hys hewe chaunge and wexe grene 
And pale, for ther noo bloode ys sene 
In no maner lym of hys. 
Anoon therwith whan y sawgh this, 
He ferde thus evel there he sete, 
I went and stoode ryght at his fete, 
And grette hym ; but he spake noght, 
But argued with his oune thoght, 
And in hys wytte disputed faste 
Why and how hys lyf e myght laste ; 
Hym thought hys sorwes were so smerte 
And lay so colde upon hys herte ; 
So throgh hys sorwes and hevy thoght 
Made hym that he herde me noght, 
For he had wel nygh loste hys mynde, 
Thogh Pan, that men clepe god of kynde, 
Were for hys sorwes never so wrothe; 
But at the last, to sayn ryght sothe, 
486 complaynt. 487 faynt. 498 lym hym. 511 the god. 









He was war of me, how y stoode 

Before hym, and did of myn hoode, 515 

And had ygret hym as I best koude, 
Debonayrly, and no thyng lowde. 
He sayde, "I prey the, be not wrothe, 
I herde the not, to seyn the sothe, 

Ne I sawgh the not, syr, trewely." 520 

"A, good sir, no fors," quod y, 
"I am ryght sory yif I have oughte 
Destroubled yow out of youre thoughte; 
Foryive me, yif I have mystake." 

"Yis, thamendys is lyght to make," 525 

Quod he, "for ther lyeth noon therto; 
There ys no thynge myssayde nor do." 
Loo, how goodely spake thys knyghte, 
As hit had be another wyghte; 

He made hyt nouther towgh ne queynte. 530 

And I sawe that, and gan me aqueynt 
With hym, and fonde hym so tretable, 
Ryght wonder skylful and resonable, 
As me thoght, for al hys bale. 

Anoon-ryght I gan fynde a tale 535 

To hym, to loke wher I myght oughte 
Have more knowynge of hys thoughte. 
"Sir," quod I, "this game is doon; 
I holde that this hert be goon ; 

These huntys konne hym nowher see." 540 

"Y do no fors therof," quod he, 
"My thought ys thereon never a dele." 
"Be oure Lorde," quod I, "y trow yow wele; 
Ryght so me thenketh by youre chere. 

But sir, oo thyng wol ye here? 545 

Me thynketh, in grete sorowe I yow see ; 
But certys, good sir, yif that yee 
Wolde ought discure me youre woo, 
520 trewly. 547 good om. 


I wolde, as wys God helpe me soo, 

Amende hyt, yif I kan or may. 550 

Ye mowe preve hyt be assay. 

For by my trouthe, to make yow hool 

I wol do alle my power hool. 

And telleth me of your sorwes smerte, 

Paraventure hyt may ease youre herte, 

That semeth ful seke under your syde." 

With that he loked on me asyde 

As who sayth, "nay, that wol not be." 

"Graunt mercy, goode frende," quod he, 

"I thanke the that thow woldest soo, 560 

But hyt may never the rather be doo. 

No man may my sorwe glade, 

That maketh my hewe to fal and fade, 

And hath myn understondynge lorne, 

That me ys woo that I was borne ! 565 

May noght make my sorwes slyde 

Nought al the remedy es of Ovyde ; 

Ne Orpheus, god of melodye, 

Ne Dedalus, with his playes slye, 

Ne hele me may noo phisicien, 570 

Noght Ypocras, ne Galyen. 

Me ys woo that I lyve oures twelve, 

But whoo so wol assay hymselve, 

Whether his hert kan have pitee 

Of any sorwe, lat hym see me. 575 

Y wrechch, that deth hath made al naked 

Of al blysse that ever was maked, 

Y worthe worste of alle wyghtys, 

That hate my dayes and my nyghtys ; 

My lyfe, my lustes, be me loothe, 580 

For al welfare and I be wroothe. 

The pure deth ys so ful my foo, 

578 al. 



That I wolde deye, hyt wolde not soo. 
For whan I folwe hyt, hit wol flee, 
I wolde have hym, hyt nyl nat me. 
This ys my peyne, wythoute rede, 
Alway deynge and be not dede, 
That Thesiphus, that lyeth in helle, 
May not of more sorwe telle. 
And who so wiste alle, be my trouthe, 
My sorwe, but he hadde rowthe 
And pitee of my sorwes smerte, 
That man hath a fendely herte. 
For who so seethe me firste on morwe 
May seyn, he hath mette with sorwe, 
For v am Sorwe, and 

Las ! and 1 wol tel the why, 
My sorowe ys turned to pleynynge, 
And al my lawghtre to wepynge, 
My glade thoghtys to hevynesse, 
In travayle ys myn ydelnesse, 
And eke my reste, my wele is woo, 
My goode ys harme, and ever-moo 
In wrathe ys turned my pleynge, 
And my delyte into sorwynge. 
Myn hele ys turned into sekenesse, 
In drede ys al my sykernesse, 
To derke ys turned al my lyghte, 
My wytte ys foly, my day ys nyghte, 
My love ys hate, my slepe wakynge, 
My merthe and meles ys f astynge, 
My countenaunce ys nycete, 
And al abawed, where so I be. 
My pees in pledynge and in werre 
Alias, how myght I fare werre ! 
My boldenesse ys turned to shame, 

591 had. 









For fals Fortune hath pleyde a game 
Atte the chesse with me, alias, the while ! 
The trayteresse fals^ and ful of gyle, 

That al behoteth, and no thyng halte, 620 

She gethe upright and yet she is halte, 
That baggeth foule and loketh faire, 
The dispitouse debonaire, 
That skorneth many a creature ; 

An ydole of fals portrayture 625 

Ys she, for she wol sone wrien, 
She is the monstres hed ywrien, 
As fylthe over ystrawed with flouris. 
Hir moste worshippe and hir flour ys 

To lyen, for that ys hyr nature, ,...6j?0 

Withoute feythe, lawe, or mesure; 
She ys fals ; and ever lawghynge 
With one yghe, and that other wepynge ; 
That ys broght up she sette al doun, 

I lykne hyr to the scorpioun, 635 

That ys a fals flateyrynge beste, 
For with his hede he maketh feste, 
But al amydde hys flaterynge, 
With hys tayle hyt wol stynge, 

And envenyme, and so wol she. 640 

She ys thenvyouse charite 
That ys ay fals, and semeth wele, 
So turneth she hyr false whele 
Aboute, for hyt ys nothynge stable, 

Now by the fire, now at table, 645 

For many oon hath she thus yblent. 
She ys pley of enchaun-tement, 
That semeth oon and ys not soo; 
The false thefe, what hath she doo, 

Trowest thou? by oure Lorde, I wol the sey. 650 

626 wrien varien. 627 mowstres. 643 fals. 646 thus she. 649 fals. 


At the chesse with me she gan to pleye; 
With hir false draughtes dyvers 
She staale on me, and toke my fers. 
And whan I sawgh my fers away, 

Alias, I kouthe no lenger play, 655 

But seyde, 'farewel, swete, ywys, 
And fare-wel al that ever ther ys !' 
Therwith Fortune seyde, 'chek here, 
And mate in the myd poynt of the chekkere' 
With a poune errante, alias ! 660 

Ful craftier to pley she was 
Than Athalus, that made the game 
First of the chesse, so was hys name; 
But God wolde I had, oones or twyes, 

Ykoude and knowe the jeupardyes 665 

That koude the Greke Pictagoras ; 
I shulde have pleyde the bet at ches, 
And kept my fers the bet therby, 
And thogh, wherto ? for trewely 

I holde that wysshe nat worthe a stree; 670 

Hyt had be never the bet for me. 
For Fortune kan so many a wyle, 
Ther be but fewe kan hir begile, 
And eke she ys the lasse to blame ; 

My selfe I wolde have do the same, 675 

Before God, hadde I be as she; 
She oght the more excused be. 
For this I say yet more therto, 
Had I be God and myghte have do 

My wille, whan my fers she kaught, 680 

I wolde have drawe the same draught. 
For also wys God yive me reste, 
I dar wel swere she tooke the beste ! 
But throgh that draught I have lorne 
652 fals. 669 thoght; trewly. 676 hadde as. 680 she my fers. 683 he 


My blysse, alias, that I was borne ! 685 

For evermore, y trowe trewly, 

For al my wille, my luste holly 

Ys turned, but yet, what to doone ? 

Be oure lorde, hyt ys to deye soone, 

For no thynge I leve hyt noght, 690 

But lyve and deye ryght in this thoght. 

For there nys planete in firmament, 

Ne in ayre, ne in erthe noon element, 

That they ne yive me a yifte echon 

Of wepynge, whan I am allon. 695 

For whan that I avise me wel, 

And bethenke me every del, 

How that ther lyeth in rekenynge 

Inne my sorwe for no thynge; 

And how ther levyth noe gladnesse 700 

May gladde me of my distresse, 

And how I have loste suffisance, 

And therto I have no plesance, 

Than may I say, I have ryght noght. 

And whan al this falleth in my thoght, 705 

Alias, than am I overcome ! 

For that ys doon ys not to come. 

I have more sorowe than Tantale." 

And whan I herde hym tel thys tale 

This pitously, as I yow telle, 710 

Unnethe myght y lenger duelle, 

Hyt dyd myn hert so moche woo. 

"A, goode sir !" quod I, "say not soo ! 

Have somme pitee on your nature 

That formed yow to creature, 

Remembre yow of Socrates, 

For he ne counted nat thre strees 

Of noght that Fortune koude doo." 

701 glad. 



"No," quod he, "I kan not soo." 
"Why so, good syr? parde," quod y, 
"Ne, say noght soo for trewely, 
Thogh ye had loste the ferses twelve, 
And ye for sorwe mordred yourselve, 
Ye sholde be dampned in this cas 
By as goode ryght as Medea was, 
That slowgh hir children for Jasoun, 
And Phyllis also for Demophoun 
Henge hirselfe, so weylaway! 
For he had broke his terme day 
To come to hir ; another rage 
Had Dydo, the quene eke of Cartage, 
That slough hirselfe, for Eneas 
Was f als, which a f oole she was ! 
And Ecquo died for Narcisus 
Nolde nat love hir, and ryght thus 
Hath many another foly doon. 
Dalida died Sampsoi 


jymseli^witli a pilere. 
But ther is no manal 
Wolde for a fers make this woo !" 
"Why so?" quod he, "hyt ys nat soo, 
Thou woste ful lytel what thou menyst, 
I have loste more than thow wenyst." 
"Loo, sir, how may that be," quod y, 
"Good sir, telle me al hooly 
In what wyse, how, why, and wherefore 
That ye have thus youre blysse lore." 
"Blythely," quod he, "come sytte adoun, 
I telle the up condicioun 
That thou shalt hooly with al thy wytte 
Doo thyn entent to herkene hitte." 
"Yis, syr." "Swere thy trouthe therto." 








720 yis parde. 721 say om.; trewly. 
749 hyt the up a. 

744 sir how she that may. 


"Gladly." "Do thanne holde hereto." 

"I shal ryght blythely, so God me save, 

Hooly, with al the witte I have, 755 

Here yow, as wel as I kan." 

"A Goddys half e," quod he, and began ; 

"Syr," quod he, "sith firste I kouthe 

Have any maner wytte fro youthe, 

Or kyndely understondynge 760 

To comprehende, in any thynge, 

What love was in myn oune wytte, 

Dredeles I have ever yitte 

Be tributarye, and yive rente 

To Love hooly with goode entente, 765 

And throgh plesaunce become his thralle, 

With good wille, body, hert, and alle. 

Al this I putte in his servage 

As to my lorde, and did homage, 

And ful devoutely I prayed hym to, 770 

He shulde besette myn herte so, 

That hyt plesance to hym were, 

And worshippe to my lady dere. 

And this was longe and many a yere 

Or that myn herte was set owhere, 775 

That I did thus, and nyste why, 

I trowe hit came me kyndely, 

Peraventure I was therto moste able 

As a white walle or a table; 

For hit ys redy to cachche and take 780 

Al that men wil theryn make, 

Whethir so men wil portrey or peynte, 

Be the werkes never so queynte. 

And thilke tyme I ferde ryght so 

I was able to have lerned tho, 785 

And to have kende as wel or better, 

758 here to. 771 hert. 782 peynt. 783 queynt. 


Paraunter, other arte or letre; 

But for love came firste in my thoght, 

Therfore I forgate hyt noght. 

I ches love to my firste crafte, 790 

Therfore hit ys with me lafte; 

For why, I toke hyt of so yonge age, 

That malyce had my corage 

Nat that tyme turned to nothynge 

Thorgh to mochel knowlachynge. 795 

For that tyme Yowthe, my maistresse, 

Governed me in ydelnesse, 

For hyt was in my firste youthe, 

And thoo ful lytel goode y couthe; 

For al my werkes were flyttynge 800 

That tyme, and al my thoght varyinge, 

Al were to me ylyche goode 

That I knewe thoo, but thus hit stoode. 

Hit happed, that I came on a day 

Into a place, ther that I say 805 

Trewly the fayrest companye 

Off ladyes, that evere man with ye 

Had seen togedres in oo place. 

Shal I clepe hyt happe other grace 

That broght me there? nay, but Fortune, 810 

That ys to lyen ful comune, 

The fals trayteresse pervers ! 

God wolde I koude clepe hir wers, 

For now she worcheth me ful woo, 

And I wol tel sone why soo; 815 

Amonge these ladyes thus echon, 

Soth to seyne, sawgh y oon 

That was lyke noon of the route ; 

For I dar swere, withoute doute, 

That as the somerys sonne bryghte 820 

790 first. 798 first. 817 y sawgh. 


Ys fairer, clerer, and hath more lyghte 

Than any other planete in hevene, 

The moone, or the sterres sevene, 

For al the worlde, so had she 

Surmountede hem al of beaute, 825 

Of maner, and of comelynesse, 

Of stature, and of wel sette gladnesse, 

Of godelyhede so wel besey ; 

Shortly what shal y more sey? 

By God, and by his halwes twelve 830 

Hyt was my swete, ryght al hir selve ! 

She had so stedfaste countenaunce, 

So noble porte, and meyntenaunce ; 

And Love, that had wel herd my boone, 

Had espyed me thus soone, 835 

That she ful sone, in my thoght, 

As helpe me God, so was y-kaught 

So sodenly, that I ne toke 

No maner counseyl, but at hir loke, 

And at myn hert; for why, hir eyen 840 

So gladly, I trow, myn herte sey en, 

That purely tho myn oune thoght 

Seyde hit were beter serve hir for noght 

Than with another to be wel. 

And hyt was sothe, for everedel 845 

I wil anoon-ryght telle the why: 

I sawgh hyr daunce so comelely, 

Carole and synge so swetly, 

Lawghe and pley so womanly, 

And loke so debonairly, 850 

So goodely speke, and so frendly, 

That certes y trowe, that evermore 

Nas seyne so blysful a tresore. 

827 of so. 828 and so. 829 more om. 830 His om. 840 And But; hert best 
853 so a. 


For every heer on hir hede, 

Soth to seyne, hyt was not rede, 855 

Ne nouther yelowe, ne broune hyt nas, 

Me thoghte most lyke gold hyt was 

And which eyen my lady hadde ! 

Debonair, goode, glade, and sadde, 

Symple, of goode mochel, noght to wyde; 860 

Therto hir looke nas not asyde 

Ne overthwert, but besette so wele 

Hyt drewh and tooke up, everydele, 

Al that on hir gan beholde. 

Hir eyen seined anoon, she wolde 865 

Have mercy foolys wenden soo, 

But hyt was never the rather doo ! 

Hyt nas no countrefeted thynge, 

Hyt was hir oune pure lokynge, 

That the goddesse, Dame Nature, 870 

Had made hem opene by mesure 

And cloos ; for were she never so glad, 

Hyr lokynge was not foly sprad, 

Ne wildely, thogh that she pleyde; 

But ever me thoght hir eyen seyde 875 

'Be God, my wrathe ys al foryive!' 

Therwith hir lyste so wel to lyve, 

That dulnesse was of hir adrad ; 

She nas to sobre, ne to glad. 

In alle thynges more mesure 880 

Had never, I trow, creature. 

But many oon with hire loke she herte, 

And that sate hyr ful lytel at herte. 

For she knewe nothynge of her thoght, 

But whither she knew, or knew it nowght, 885 

Algate she ne rought of hem a stree. 

To gete hyr love noo nerre was he 

857 thoght; gold om. 882-3 hert. 884 knowe. 


That woned at home, than he in Ynde; 

The formest was alway behynde. 

But goode folke over al other 890 

She loved, as man may do hys brother, 

Of whiche love she was wounder large 

In skilful placis that bere charge. 

But which a visage had she thertoo ! 

Alias, myn hert ys wonder woo 895 

That I ne kan discryven hyt! 
Me lakketh both Englyssh and wit 
For to undo hyt at the f ulle ; 
And eke my spiritis be so dulle 

So grete a thynge for to devyse. 900 

I have no witte that kan suffise 
To comprehende hir beaute, 
But thus moche dar I sayn, that she 
Was rody, fressh, and lyvely hewed; 

And every day hir beaute newed, 905 

And negh hir face was alderbest; 
For certys Nature had swich lest 
To make that faire, that trewly she 
Was hir chefe patrone of beaute, 
And chefe ensample of al hir werke, 
And moustre; for, be hyt never so derke, 
Me thynkyth I se hir evermoo. 
And yet moreover, thogh al thoo 
That ever levede were now alyve, 

Ne sholde ha founde to diskryve 915 

Yn al hir face a wikked sygne, 
For hit was sad, symple, and benygne. 

And which a goodely softe speche 
Had that swete, my lyves leche, 

So frendely, and so wel ygrounded, 920 

Up al resoun so wel yfounded, 

888 than that. 890 good. 904 white rody. 


And so tretable to al goode, 

That I dar swere wel by the roode 

Of eloquence was never founde 

So swete a sownynge facounde, 925 

Ne trewer tonged, ne skorned lasse, 

Ne bet koude hele, that by the masse 

I durste swere, thogh the Pape hit songe, 

That ther was never yet throgh hir tonge 

Man ne woman gretely harmed. 93G 

As for hir, hit was al harme hyd; 

Ne lasse flaterynge in hir word, 

That purely hir symple recorde 

Was founde as trewe as any bonde 

Or trouthe of any mannys honde. 935 

Ne chyde she koude never a dele, 

That knoweth al the worlde ful wele. 

But swiche a fairenesse of a nekke 

Had that swete, that boon nor brekke 

Nas ther non seen that mys-satte. 940 

Hyt was white, smothe, streght, and pure flatte, 

Wythouten hole; or canel-boon, 

As be semynge, had she noon, 

Hyr throte, as I have now memoyre, 

Semed a rounde toure of yvoyre, 945 

Of goode gretenesse, and noght to grete. 

And goode faire White she hete, 

That was my lady name, ryghte. 

She was bothe faire and bryghte, 

She had not hir name wronge; 950 

Ryght faire shuldres, and body longe 

She had, and armes; every lyth 

Fattyssh, flesshy, not grete therwith, 

Ryght white handes, and nayles rede; 

Rounde brestes, and of good brede 955 

hir om. 


Hyr hippes were, a streight flat bakke. 

I knewe on hir noon other lakke, 

That al hir lymmes nere pure sywynge 

In as ferre as I had knowynge. 

Therto she koude so wel pley, 960 

Whan that hir lyst, that I dar sey 

That she was lyke to torche bryght 

That every man may take of lyght 

Ynogh, and hyt hathe never the lesse. 

Of maner and of comlynesse 965 

Ryght so ferde my lady dere; 

For every wight of hir manere 

Myght cachche ynogh, yif that he wolde, 

Yif he had eyen hir to beholde ; 

For I dar swere wel, yif that she 970 

Had amonge ten thousande be, 

She wolde have be, at the lest, 

A chefe meroure of al the fest, 

Thogh they had stonde in a rowe, 

To mennys eyen koude have knowe. 975 

For wher so men had pleyed or wakyed, 

Me thoght the felysshyppe as naked 

Withouten hir, that sawgh I oones, 

As a corowne withoute stones. 

Trewly she was to myn eye 980 

The soleyne Fenix of Arabye, 

For ther levyth nevir but oon ; 

Ne swich as she ne knowe I noon. 

To speke of godenesse, trewly, she 

Had as moche debonairyete 985 

As ever had Hester in the Bible, 

And more, yif more were possyble. 

And sothe to seyne, therwythalle 

She had a wytte so generalle, 

988 seyn. 


So hoole enclyned to alle goode, 990 

That al hir wytte was set, by the rode, 

Withoute malyce, upon gladnesse. 

And therto I sawgh never yet a lesse 

Harmeful than she was in doynge. 

I sey nat that she ne had knowynge 995 

What harme was, or elles she 

Had koude no good, so thenketh me. 

And trewly, for to speke of trouthe 

But she had hadde, hyt hadde be routhe; 

Therof she had so moche hyr dele, 1000 

And I dar seyn, and swere hyt wele, 

That Trouthe hymselfe over al and alle 

Had chose hys maner principalle 

In hir, that was his restynge place. 

Therto she hadde the moste grace 1005 

To have stedefaste perseveraunce 

And esy atempry governaunce 

That ever I knewe, or wyste yitte, 

So pure suffraunt was hir wytte. 

And reson gladly she understoode; 1010 

Hyt folowed wel she koude goode. 

She used gladly to do wel, 

These were hir maners every del; 

Therwith she loved so wel ryght, 

She wronge do wolde to no wyght, 1015 

No wyght myght doo hir noo shame, 

She loved so wel hir oune name 

Hyr lust to holde no wyght in honde, 

Ne, be thou siker, she wolde not fonde 

To holde no wyght in balaunce 1020 

By halfe worde, ne by countenaunce, 

But yif men wolde upon hir lye ; 

Ne sende men into Walakye, 

To Pruyse, and into Tartarye, 


To Alysaundre, ne into Turkye, 1025 

And byd hym faste anoon, that he 

Goo hoodeles to the drye se, 

And come home by the Carrenare, 

And sey, 'Sir, be now ryght ware, 

That I may of yow here seyn 1030 

Worshyppe, or that ye come ageyn.' 

She ne used no suche knakkes smale. 

But wherfore that y tel my tale? 
Ryght on thys same, as I have seyde, 
Was hooly al my love leyde; 1035 

For certes, she was, that swete wife, 
My suffisaunce, my luste, my lyfe, 
Myn happe, myn hele, and al my blysse, 
My worldys welfare and my lisse, 

And I hooly hires, and everydel!" 1040 

"By oure lord," quod I, "y trowe yow wel, 
Hardely, your love was wel besette. 
I not how ye myght have doo bette." 
"Bette? ne no wyght so wele," quod he, 
"Y trowe hyt wel, sir," quod I, "parde!" 1045 

"Nay, leve hyt wel !" "Sire, so do I ; 
I leve yow wel, that trewly 
Yow thoghte, that she was the best, 
And to be-holde the alderfayrest, 

Whoso^ia^loked hir with your eyen." 1050 

"'wTTi ^^^PfB?!H^S ^^RPHVP"" 111111 * 

vv rcn myn r nay, ai iiiai iiir seyen 
Seyde and swore hyt was soo ; 
And thogh they ne hadde, I wolde thoo 
Have loved best my lady free. 

Thogh I had hadde al the beaute 1055 

That ever had Alcipyades, 
And al the strengthe of Ercules, 
And therto had the worthynesse 

1027 into. 1039 lisse goddesse. 


Of Alysaunder, and al the rychesse 

That ever was in Babyloyne, 1060 

In Cartage, or in Macedoyne, 
Or in Rome, or in Nynyve ; 
And to also as hardy be 
As was Ector, so have I joye, 

That Achilles slough at Troye 1065 

And therfore was he slayn alsoo, 
In a temple, for bothe twoo 
Were slayne, he and Antylegyus 
And so seyth Dares Frygius, 

For love of Polixena; 1070 

Or ben as wis as Mynerva, 
I wolde ever, withoute drede, 
Have loved hir, for I most nede. 
Nede? nay, trewly, I gabbe no we; 

Noght 'nede/ and I wol telle howe; 1075 

For of goode wille myn hert hyt wolde, 
And eke to love hir I was holde 
As for the fairest and the beste. 
She was as good, so have I reste, 

As ever was Penolopee of Grece, 1080 

Or as the noble wife Lucrece, 
That was the best, he telleth thus, 
The Romayne, Tytus Lyvyus. 
She was as good, and nothynge lyke, 

Thogh hir stories be autentyke; 1085 

Algate she was as trewe as she 
But wherfore that I telle the ? 
Whan I firste my lady say, 
I was ryght yonge, sothe to say, 

And ful grete nede I hadde to lerne; 1090 

Whan my herte wolde yerne 
To love, hyt was a grete empryse. 
But as my wytte koude beste suffise, 


After my yonge childely wytte, 

Withoute drede, I besette hytte, 1095 

To love hir in my beste wyse 

To do hir worshippe, and the servise 

That I koude thoo, be my trouthe, 

Withoute feynynge outher slouthe; 

For wonder feyne I wolde hir se, 1100 

So mochel hyt amended me, 

That whan I sawgh hir first a-morwe 

I was warished of al my sorwe, 

Of al day after til hyt were eve ; 

Me thoghte nothyng myghte me greve 1105 

Were my sorwes never so smerte. 

And yet she sytte so myn herte, 

That by my trouthe y nolde noght, 

For ay thys worlde, oute of my thoght 

Leve my lady,, noo, trewly!" 1110 

"Now by my trouthe, sir," quod I, 
"Me thynketh ye have suche a chaunce 
As shryfte wythoute repentaunce." 

"Repentaunce? nay, fy!" quod he, 

"Shulde y now repente me 1115 

To love? nay, certis, than were I wel 
Wers than was Achetofel, 
Or Anthenor, so have I joye, 
The traytore that betraysed Troye ; 

Or the false Genelloun, 1120 

He that purchased the tresoun 
Of Rowlande and of Olyvere. 
Nay, while I am alyve here, 
I nyl foryete hir never moo." 

"Now, good syr," quod I, as thoo, 1 

"Ye han wel tolde me here before, 
Hyt ys no nede to reherse more, 

1096 best. 1103 warshed. 1105 thoght. 1120 fals. 1125 as om. 


How ye sawgh hir firste, and where ; 

But wolde ye tel me the manere 

To hire which was your first speche? 1130 

Therof I wolde yow beseche; 

And how she knewe first your thoght, 

Whether ye loved hir or noght ; 

And telleth me eke what ye have lore 

I herde yow telle herebefore." 1135 

"Yee," he seyde, "thow nost what thou menyst ; 
I have lost more than thou wenyst." 

"What losse ys that?" quod I thoo. 
"Nyl she not love yow? ys hyt soo? 

Or have ye oght doon amys, 1140 

That she hathe lefte yow, ys hyt this? 
For Goddys love, telle me alle." 

"Before God/' quod he, "and I shalle. 
I say ryght as I have seyde, 

On hir was al my love leyde, 1145 

And yet she nyste hyt never a del 
Noght longe tyme, leve hyt wel. 
For be ryght siker, I durste noght 
For al this worlde tel hir my thoght, 

Ne I wolde have wraththed hir, trewly. 1150 

For wostow why, she was lady 
Of the body, she had the hert, 
And who hath that may not astert. 
But, for to kepe me fro ydelnesse, 

Trewly I did my besynesse 1155 

To make songes, as I best koude, 
And ofte tyme I songe hem loude, 
And made songes this a grete dele, 
Al thogh I koude not make so wele 

Songes, ne knowe the arte alle 1 1 60 

As koude Lamekys sone, Tuballe, 

1148 nat never. 1154 so fro. 1160 ne the. 


That founde out firste the art of songe; 

For as hys brothres hamers ronge 

Upon hys anvelet, up and doun, 

Therof he tooke the first soun. 1165 

But Grekes seyn Pictagoras, 

That he the firste fynder was 

Of the arte; Aurora telleth soo, 

But therof no fors of hem twoo. 

Algatis, songes thus I made 1170 

Of my felynge, myn hert to glade, 

And loo,, this was myn alther-first 

I not wher hyt were the werst 

'Lorde, hyt maketh myn herte lyght 

Whan I thenke on that swete wyght 1175 

That is so semely on to see ; 

And wisshe to God, hit myght so bee 

That she wolde holde me for hir knyght, 

My lady, that is so f aire and bryght !' 

Now have I tolde, the sothe to say, 1180 

My firste songe. Upon a day 
I bethoghte me what woo 
And sorwe that I suffred thoo 
For hir, and yet she wyst hyt noght, 

Ne tel hir durst I nat my thoght. 1185 

'Alias,' thoght I, 'y kan no rede ! 
And, but I telle hir, I nam but dede. 
And yif I telle hyr, to sey ryght sothe, 
I am adred she wol be wrothe. 

Alias, what shal I thanne doo?' 11 90 

In this debate I was so woo 
Me thoght myn herte brast a-tweyne. 
So at the laste, sothe to sayne, 

1167 first. 1172 myn om.; this thus. 1174 hert. 1181 first. 1182 bethoght. 
1187 am. 1192 hert. 1193 last. 


I be-thoght me, that nature 

Ne formed never in creature 11 95 

So moche beaute, trewely 

And bounte, wythoute mercy. 

In hope of that, my tale I tolde 

With sorwe, as that I never sholde; 

For nedys, and mawgree my hede, 1200 

I most have tolde hir, or be dede. 

I not wel how that I beganne 

Fill evel reherse hyt I kan 

And eke, as helpe me God withalle, 

I trowe hyt was in the dismalle 1205 

That was the ten woundes of Egipte; 

For many a worde I overskipte 

In my tale, for pure fere 

Lest my wordys mys-sette were. 

With sorweful herte, and woundes dede, 1210 

Softe and quakynge for pure drede 

And shame, and styntynge in my tale 

For ferde, and myn hewe al pale, 

Ful ofte I wexe bothe pal and rede. 

Bowynge to hir I heng the hede 1215 

I durste nat ones loke hir on 

For witte, maner, and al was goon. 

I seyde 'mercy !' and no more. 

Hyt nas no game, hyt sate me sore. 

So at the laste, sothe to seyne, 1220 

Whan that myn hert was come ageyne, 
To telle shortely al my speche, 
With hool herte I gan hir beseche 
That she wolde be my lady swete; 

And swore, and gan hir hertely hete 1225 

Ever to be stedfast and trewe, 
And love hir alwey fresshly newe, 

1196 trewly. 1222 al at 


And never other lady have, 

And al hir worshippe for to save. 

As I best koude, I swore hir this, 1230 

'For youres is alle, that ever ther ys, 

For evermore, myn herte swete, 

And never to false yow, but I mete, 

I nyl, as wysse God helpe me soo !' 

And whan I had my tale ydoo, 1235 

God wote, she acounted nat a stree 

Of al my tale, so thoghte me ! 

To telle shortly ryght as hyt ys, 

Trewly hir answere, hyt was this 

I kan not now wel counterfete 1240 

Hyr wordys, but this was the grete 

Of hir answere, she sayde 'nay !' 

Alle outerly, alias, that day ! 

The sorowe I suffred, and the woo 

That trewly Cassandra, that soo 1245 

Bewayled the destruccioun 

Of Troy and of Ilyoun 

Had never swich sorwe as I thoo. 

I durst no more say ther-too 

For pure fere, but stale away; 1250 

And thus I lyved ful many a day, 

That trewely I hadde no nede 

Ferther than my beddes hede 

Never a day to seche sorwe. 

I fonde hyt redy every morwe, 1255 

For why, I loved hyr in no gere. 

So hit befel another yere, 

I thoughte ones I wolde fonde 

To do hir knowe and understonde 

My woo, and she wel understode 

That I ne wilned no thynge but gode 

1237 thoght. 


And worshippe, and to kepe hir name 

Over alle thynges, and dred hir shame, 

And was so besy hyr to serve, 

And pitee were I shulde sterve, 1265 

Syth that I wilned noon harme, ywys. 

So whan my lady knewe al thys 

My lady yaf me al hooly 

The noble yifte of hir mercy, 

Savynge hir worshippe by al weyes, 1270 

Dredles, I mene noon other weyes. 

And therwith she yaf me a rynge, 

I trowe hyt was the first thynge. 

But yif myn hert was iwaxe 

Gladde, that is no nede to axe. 1275 

As helpe me God, I was as blyve 

Reysed as fro dethe to lyve, 

Of al happes the alderbeste, 

The gladdest, and the moste at reste ; 

For trewely that swete wyght, 1280 

Whan I had wrong and she the ryght, 

She wolde alway so goodely 

Foryeve me so debonairely, 

In al my yowthe, in alle chaunce, 

She tooke me in hir governaunce. 1285 

Therwyth she was alway so trewe 

Our j oye was ever-ylyche newe. 

Oure hertys werne so evene a payre 

That never nas that oon contrarye 

To that other, for noo woo. . 12QO 

For sothe ylyche they suffred thoo 

Oo blysse and eke oo sorwe bothe ; 

Ylyche they were, bothe glad and wrothe ; 

Al was us oon, withoute were; 

And thus we lyved ful many a yere 1295 

1280 trewly. 1281 the om. .'284 al (2). 


So wel, I kan nat telle how !" 

"Sir," quod I, "where is she now?" 

"Now !" quod he, and stynte anoon. . . . 

Therwith he waxe as dede as stoon, 

And seyde, "Alias, that I was bore! 1300 

That was the losse that here before 

I tolde the, that I hadde lorne. 

Bethenke how I seyde herebeforne 

'Thow wost ful lytel what thow menyst, 

I have lost more th*an thow wenyst,' 1305 

God wote, alias, ryght that was she !" 

"Alias, sir, how? what may that be?" 

"She ys ded !" "nay !" "Yis, be my trouthe !" 

"Is that youre losse? be God, hyt ys routhe!" 

And with that worde, ryght anoon 1310 

They gan to strake forth, al was doon, 
For that tyme the herte huntynge. 
With that me thoghte that this kynge 
Anoon gan homewarde for to ryde 

Unto a place was there besyde, 1315 

Which was from us but a lyte, 
A longe castel, with wallys white, 
Be seynt Johan, on a ryche hille, 
As me mette; but thus hyt fille 

Ryght thus me mette, as I yow telle 1320 

That in the castell ther was a belle, 
As hyt hadde smyten cures twelve. 

Therewyth I awooke my selve, 
And fonc(,e me lyinge in my bedde, 

And the booke that I hadde redde 1325 

Of Alcione and Seys the kynge 
And of the goddys of slepynge, 
I fond hyt in myn honde ful evene. 
Thoght I, "Thys ys so queynt a sweveue 

1318 thoght. 1314 Anoon om. 1322 smyte. 


That I wol, be processe of tyme, 1330 

Fonde to put this swevene in ryme 

As I kan best, and that anoon." 

This was my swevene, now hit ys doon. 

Explicit the Boke of the Duchesse. 



"Gladeth, ye foules, of the morowe gray, 

Loo, Venus ! rysen amonge yon rowes rede ; 

And floures fressh, honouren ye this day, 

For when the sunne uprist then wol ye sprede. 

But ye lovers, that lye in eny drede, 5 

Fleeth, lest wikked tonges yow espye, 

Loo, yonde the sunne, the candel of jalosye. 


Wyth teres blew, and with a wounded hert 

Taketh your leve, and with seynt John to borowe 

Apeseth sumwhat of your sorowes smert; 10 

Tyme cometh efte that cese shal your sorowe, 

The glade nyght ys worthe an hevy morowe." 

Seynt Valentyne, a foule thus herd I synge 

Upon your day, er sunne gan up-sprynge. 


Yet sange this foule, "I rede yow al a wake, 15 

And ye that han not chosen in humble wyse, 

Without repentynge cheseth yow your make; 

And ye that han ful chosen as I devise, 

Yet at this fest renoveleth your servyse, 

Confermeth hyt perpetuely to dure, 20 

And paciently taketh your aventure. 


And for the worship of this highe fest 
Yet wol I, in my briddes wise, synge 

1 of on ; foules lovers. 2 yon yow. 3 ye the. 4 ye they. 9 sent. 12 glad. 


The sentence of the compleynt, at the lest, 

That woful Mars made atte departyng 25 

Fro fresshe Venus in a morwnyng, 

Whan Phebus with his firy torches rede 

Ransaked every lover in hys drede. " 


Whilom the thridde hevenes lord above 

As wel by hevenysh revolucioun SO 

As by desert, hath wonne Venus his love, 

And she hath take him in subjeccioun, 

And as a maistresse taught him his lessoun, 

Commaundynge him that nevere in her servise 

He ner so bolde no lover to dispise. 35 


For she forbad him jelosye at alle, 

And cruelte, and bost, and tyrannye, 

She made him at her lust so humble and talle 

That when her deyned to cast on hym her ye, 

He toke in pacience to lyve or dye ; 40 

And thus she brydeleth him in her maner 

With nothing but with scourging of her cher. 


Who regneth now in blysse but Venus, 

That hath thys worthy knyght in governaunce? 

Who syngeth now but Mars, that serveth thus 45 

The faire Venus causer of plesaunce? 

He bynt him to perpetuall obeisaunce, 

And she bynt her to loven him for ever, 

But so be that his trespace hyt desever. 

28 hath every. 88 him om.; calle. 42 scourging stering. 48 fair. 48 love. 



Thus be they knyt, and regnen as in heven 50 

Be lokyng moost; til hyt fil on a tyde 

That by her bothe assent was set a steven 

That Mars shal entre as fast as he may glyde 

Into hir nexte paleys to abyde, 

Walkynge hys cours til she had him atake, 55 

And he preiede her to haste her for his sake. 


Then seyde he thus, "Myn hertis lady suete, 

Ye knowe wel my myschefe in that place, 

For sikirly til that I with yow mete, 

My lyfe stant ther in aventure and grace; 60 

But when I se the beaute of your face, 

Ther ys no dred of deth may do me smert, 

For alle your lust is ese to myn hert." 


She hath so grete compassion on her knyght 

That dwelleth in solitude til she come, 65 

For hyt stode so that ylke tyme no wight 

Counseyled hym, ne seyde to hym welcome 

That nyghe her witte for sorowe was overcome, 

Wherfore she sped her as fast in her wey 

Almost in oon day as he dyd in twey. 70 

The grete j oye that was betwex hem two 
When they be mette, ther may no tunge tel, 
Ther is no more, but unto bed thei go, 
And thus in joy and blysse I let hem duel, 
This worthi Mars, that is of knyghthode wel, 
The flour of feyrenesse lappeth in his armes, 
And Venus kysseth Mars the god of armes. 
54 next. 56 haste faste. 



Sojourned hath this Mars, of which I rede, 

In chambre amyd the paleys prively 

A certeyn tyme, til him fel a drede 80 

Throgh Phebus, that was comen hastely 

Within the paleys yates ful sturdely 

With torche in honde, of which the stremes bryght 

On Venus chambre knokkeden ful lyght. 


The chambre ther as ley this fresshe quene 85 

Depeynted was with white boles grete, 

And by the lyght she knew, that shone so shene, 

That Phebus cam to bren hem with his hete. 

This cely Venus, nygh dreynt in teres wete, 

Enbraceth Mars and seyde, "alas, I dye, 90 

The torch is come that al this world wol wrie." 


Up sterte Mars, hym luste not to slepe, 

When he his lady herde so compleyne; 

But for his nature was not for to wepe, 

In stid of teres, fro his eyen tweyne 95 

The firi sparkes brosten out for peyne ; 

And hent his hauberke that ley hym besyde; 

Fie wold he not, ne myght himselven hide. 


He throweth on his helme of huge wyght, 
And girt him with his swerde; and in his honde 100 

His myghty spere, as he was wont to fyght, 
He shaketh so that almost hit towonde; 
Ful hevy was he to walken over londe, 
He may not holde with Venus companye, 
But bad her fleen, lest Phebus her espye. 105 

84 knokken. 92 stert ; lust. 95 twyne. 99 three. 



O woful Mars ! alas, what maist thou seyn, 

That in the paleys of thy disturbaunce 

Art left byhynde, in peril to be sleyn ; 

And yet therto ys double thy penaunce, 

For she that hath thyn hert in governaunce 110 

Is passed halfe the stremes of thin yen, 

That thou ner swift, wel maist thou wepe and crien ! 


Now fleeth Venus into Cilinios toure, 
With voide cours, for fere of Phebus lyght. 
Alas, and ther ne hath she no socoure, 115 

For she ne founde ne saugh no maner wyght; 
And eke as ther she had but litil myght, 
Wherfor, herselven for to hyde and save, 
Within the gate she fledde into a cave. 


Derke was this cave, and smokyng as the hel, 120 

Not but two pas within the yate hit stode. 
A naturel day in derk I let her duel ; 
Now wol I speke of Mars, furiouse and wode, 
For sorow he wold have sene his herte blode, 
Sith that he myght done her no companye, 125 

He ne roghte not a myte for to dye. 


So feble he wex for hete and for his wo, 
That nygh he swelt, he myght unnethe endure. 
He passeth but a steyre in dayes two ; 
But ner the lesse, for al his hevy armure, 13 

He foloweth her that is his lyves cure, 
For whos departyng he toke gretter ire 
Then for al his brennyng in the fire. 

108 art thou. 114 with wich. 115 ne om. 119 fledde fel. 121 pas pales. 
124 hert. 125 have done. 126 thoght. 129 steyre sterre. 



After he walketh softely a paas, 

Compleynyng, that hyt pite was to here. 135 

He seyde, "O lady bryght, Venus, alas, 

That evere so wyde a compas ys my spere ! 

Alas when shal I mete yow, herte dere? 

This twelve dayes of Apprile I endure 

Throgh jelouse Phebus this mysaventure." 140 


Now God helpe sely Venus allone ! 

But as God wolde, hyt happed for to be 

That while that Venus weping made her mone 

Cilinius, rydinge in his chevache, 

Fro Venus valaunse myght his paleys se, 145 

And Venus he salueth, and maketh chere, 

And her receyveth as his frende ful dere. 


Mars dwelleth forth in his adversyte, 

Compleynyng ever on her departynge; 

And what his compleynt was, remembreth me; 150 

And therfore, in this lusty morwnynge, 

As I best can, I wol hit seyn and synge, 

And after that I wol my leve take, 

And God yif every wyght j oy of his make ! 

The compleynt of Mars. 

The ordre of compleynt requireth skylfully 155 

That yf a wight shal pleyne petously, 

Ther mot be cause, wherfore that men pleyn, 
Other men may deme he pleyneth folely 
And causeles ; alas, that am not I ! 
188 hert. 145 valaunses. 156 pleyn. 


Wherfor the grounde and cause of al my peyn, 160 

So as my troubled witte may hit ateyn, 
I wol reherse, not for to have redresse, 
But to declare my grounde of hevynesse. 

[First Tern.] 

The first tyme, alas, that I was wroght, 

And for certeyn effectes hider broght 165 

Be him that lordeth ech intelligence, 
I yaf my trwe servise and my thoght 
For ever-more, how dere I have hit boght, 

To her that is of so gret excelence, 

That what wight that first sheweth his presence, 170 
When she is wrothe, and taketh of hym no cure, 
He may not longe in joye of love endure. 

This is no f eyned mater that I telle ; 
My lady is the verrey sours and welle 

Of beaute, lust, fredam, and gentilnesse, 175 

Of riche aray, how dere men hit selle, 
Of al disport, in which men frendly duelle, 

Of love and pley, and of benigne humblesse, 

Of soune of instrumentes of al suetnesse, 
And therto so wel fortuned and thewed, 180 

That thorow the worlde her goodnesse is yshewed. 

What wonder ys then, thogh that I beset 
My servise on such on that may me knet 

To wele or wo, sith hit lythe in her myght? 
Therfore my hert for ever I to her het, 185 

Ne truly, for my dethe, I shal not let 

To ben her truest servaunt and her knyght. 

I flater noght, that may wete every wyght ; 
For this day in her servise shal I dye, 
But grace be I se her ones wyth ye. 

169 To that. 182 that om. 185 het hight. 190 ones oenes alt. fr. neuer. 



[Second Tern.] 

To whom shal I than pleyn of my distresse? 
Who may me helpe? who may my harme redresse? 

Shal I compleyn unto my lady f re ? 
Nay, certes, for she hath such hevynesse, 
For fere and eke for wo, that, as I gesse, 195 

In lytil tyme hit wol her bane be. 

But were she safe, hit wer no fors of me. 
Alas, that ever lovers mote endure, 
For love, so many a perilouse aventure ! 

For tho so be, that lovers be as trewe 200 

As eny metal that is forged newe, 

In mony a case hem tydeth ofte sorowe, 

Somtyme her ladies wil not on hem rewe; 

Somtyme, yf that jelosie hyt knewe, 

They myghten lyghtly ley her hede to borowe; 205 

Somtyme envyous folke, with tunges horowe, 

Departen hem, alas, whom may they plese? 

But he be fals, no lover hath his ese. 

But what availeth suche a longe sermoun 

Of aventures of love up and doune? 210 

I wol returne, and speken of my peyne; 
The poynt is this, of my distruccioun 
My righte lady, my savacyoun, 

Is in affray, and not to whom to pleyn. 

O herte suete, O lady sovereyn, 215 

For your disese I oght wel swowne and swelt, 
Thogh I none other harme ne drede felt. 

[Third Tern.] 

To what fyne made the god that sitte so hye, 
Be-nethen him love other companye, 

And streyneth folke to love malgre her hede? 220 

191 than om. 203 somme. 215 hert. 216 sowne. 219 him om. 


And then her joy, for oght I can espye, 
Ne lasteth not the twynkelyng of an eye ; 

And somme han never j oy til they be dede. 

What meneth this ? what is this mystihede ? 
Wherto constreyneth he his folke so fast 225 

Thing to desyre but hit shulde last ? 

And thogh he made a lover love a thing, 
And maketh hit seme stidfast and during, 

Yet putteth he in hyt such mysaventure, 
That reste nys ther noon in his yevinge. 230 

And that is wonder, that so juste a kynge 

Doth such hardnesse to his creature. 

Thus, whether love breke or elles dure, 
Algates he that hath with love to done, 
Hath ofter wo then changed ys the mone. 235 

Hit semeth he hath to lovers enemyte, 
And lyke a fissher, as men alday may se, 

Bateth hys angle-hoke with summe plesaunce, 
Til mony a fissch ys wode to that he be 
Sesed ther-with, and then at erst hath he 240 

Al his desire, and ther-with al myschaunce ; 

And thogh the lyne breke, he hath penaunce, 
For with the hoke he wounded is so sore, 
That he his wages hathe for evermore. 

[Fourth Tern.] 

The broche of Thebes was of such a kynde, 245 

So ful of rubies and of stones ynde, 

That every wight that set on hit an ye, 
He wend anon to worthe out of his mynde, 
So sore the beaute wold his herte bynde. 

Til he hit had, him thoght he muste dye; 250 

226 shuld. 230 noon om. 233 wether. 246 of ynde, 249 hert. 250 must. 


And whan that hit was his, then shuld he drye 
Such woo for drede, ay while that he hit had, 
That welnygh for the fere he shulde mad. 

And whan hit was fro his possessioun, 

Then had he double wo and passioun, 255 

For he so f eir a tresore had forgo ; 

But yet this broche, as in conclusioun 

Was not the cause of this confusioun, 

But he that wroght hit, enfortuned hit so, 

That every wight that had hit shuld have wo ; 260 

And therfore in the worcher was the vice, 

And in the covetour that was so nyce. 

So fareth hyt by lovers and by me, 
For thogh my lady have so gret beaute 

That I was mad til I had gete her grace, 265 

She was not cause of myn adversite, 
But he that wroght her, also mot I the, 

That putte suche a beaute in her face 

That made me coveten and purchace 

Myn oune dethe, him wite I that I dye, 270 

And myn unwitte, that ever I clombe so hye, 

[Fifth Tern.] 

But to yow, hardy knyghtis of renoun, 
Syn that ye be of my devisioun, 

Al be I not worthy to so grete a name, 

Yet seyn these clerkes, I am your patroun; 275 

Therfore ye oght have somme compassioun 

Of my disese, and take hit not agame. 

The pruddest of yow may be made ful tame; 
Wherfore I prey yow of your gentilesse, 
That ye compleyne for myn hevynesse. 280 

251 that, his om. 253 shuld. 259 enfortune. 267 also as. 268 put; a om. 
271 ovne witte. 280 compleyn. 


And ye, my ladyes, that ben true and stable, 

Be wey of kynde, ye oghten to be able 
To have pite of folke that be in peyn. 

Now have ye cause to clothe yow in sable, 

Sith that youre emperise, the honurable, 285 

Is desolat, wel oghte ye to pleyne, 
Now shuld your holy teres falle and reyne. 

Alas, your honour and your emperise, 

Negh ded for drede, ne can her not chevise. 

Compleyneth eke, ye lovers, al in fere, 290 

For her that with unfeyned humble chere, 
Was evere redy to do yow socoure; 

Compleyneth her that evere hath had yow dere; 

Compleyneth beaute, fredom, and manere; 

Compleyneth her that endeth your labour; 295 

Compleyneth thilke ensample of al honour 

That never did but alway gentilesse ; 

Kytheth therfor on her summe kyndenesse. 

286 oght. 293 complen; der 


Here begynyth the parlement of ffoulys. 

The lyf so short, the craft so longe to lerne, 
Thassay so sharp, so hard the conquerynge, 
The dredful joye alwey that slit so yerne, 
Al this mene I be Love, that my f elynge 
Astonyd with his wondyrful werkynge 
So sore, Iwis, thjffi wjmn I on hym^hynj|a^ 
Nat wot I wel wher thatTlfete or synke. 

For al be that I knowe nat Love indede, 

Ne wot how that he quitith folk here hyre, 

Yit happith me ful ofte in bokis reede 10 

Of hise myraklis and his crewel yre, 

That rede I wel, he wole be lord and syre. 

I dar nat seyn, his strokis been so sore, 

But God save swich a lord! I sey namoore. 

Of usage, what for lust and what for lore, 15 

On bokis rede I ofte, as I yow tolde. 

But wherfore that I speke al this ? nat yoore 

Agon, it happede me for to beholde 

Upon a bok was wrete with letteris olde, 

And therupon^a certeyn thing to lerne, 20 

The longe day ful faste I redde and yerne. 

For oute of olde feldys, as men sey, 

Comyth al this newe corn from yer to yere, 

And out of olde bokis, in good fey, 

Comyth al this newe science that men lere. 25 

But now to purpos as of this matere ; 

To rede forth so gan me to delite 

That al that day me thoughte but a lyte. 

j, and elsewhere in this text. 6 I wis. 12 wele. 22 ofte. 


This bok of which I make of mencioun 

Entytlt was al thus, as I schal telle, 30 

"Tullyus of the drem of Scipioun." 

Chapiteris sevene it hadde, of hevene and helle 

And erthe, and soulis that therynne dwelle, 

Of whiche, as shortly as I can it trete, 

Of his centence I wele yow seyn the greete. 35 

Fyrst tellith it, whan Scipion was come 

In Affrik, how he metyth Massynisse, 

That hym for joie in armys hath inome. 

Thanne tellyth he here speche, and of the blysse 

That was betwixsyn hem til that day gan mysse ; 40 

And how his auncestre, Affrycan so deere, 

Gan in his slep that nyght to hym apere. 

Thanne tellith it, that from a sterry place 

How Affrycan hath hym Cartage schewid, 

And warnede hym beforn of al his grace; 45 

And seyde, what man lernyd other lewid 

That lovede comoun profyt wel ithewid, 

He shulde into a blysful place wende, 

There as joye is, that last withoutyn ende. 

Thanne axede he, if folk that now been dede 50 

Han lyf and dwellynge in anothir place. 

And Affrican seyde, "ya, withoutyn drede," 

And that oure present worldis lyvys space 

Nys but a maner deth, what weye we trace ; 

And rightful folk schul gon aftyr they deye 55 

To hevene, and schewede hym the galaxy. 

Thanne shewede he hym the litel erthe that here is 

At regard of the hevenys quantite, 

And after shewede he hym the nyne speris, 

31 sothiom. 33 theryn. 39 spche. 40 thil. 53 wordis. 56 galy \ 
57 litel om. 



And aftyr that, the melodye herde he 60 

That comyth of thilke speris thryes thre, 

That welle is of musik and melodye 

In this world here and cause of armonye. 

Than bad he hym, syn erthe was so lyte 

And ful of torment and of harde grace, 65 

That he ne schulde hym in the world delyte, 

Thanne tolde he hym, in certeyn yeris space 

That every sterre shulde come into his place 

Ther it was ferst, and al schulde out of mynde 

That in this world is don of al mankynde. 70 

Thanne preyede hym Cypyon to telle hym al 

The weye to come into that hevene blis. 

And he seyde, "Know thyself ferst inmortal, 

And loke ay besyly thow werche and wysse 

To comoun profit, and thow shalt not mysse 75 

To comyn swiftly to this place deere 

That ful of blysse is and of soulys cleere. 

But brekers of the lawe, soth to seyn, 

And lykerous folk, aftyr that they ben dede, 

Schul whirle aboute therthe alwey in peyne, 80 

Tyl manye a world be passid, out of drede, 

And that foryevyn is his weked dede. 

Than shal they comyn into this blysful place, 

To whiche to comyn, God the synde his grace." 

The day gan faillen, and the derke nyght, 85 

That revith bestis from here besynesse, 

Beraf te me my bok, for lak of lyght ; 

And to my bed I gan me for to dresse, 

Fulfyld of thought and busy hevynesse ; 

For bothe I hadde thyng which that I nolde 90 

\nd ek I ne hadde that thyng that I wolde. 

65 was sumdel disseyvable & ful. 77 of (2) om. 78 brekeis. 80 there. 
84 theom.; his us. 85 folwyn. 88 bed self. 90 which om. 9lthat(l)om 


But fynally, my spirit at the laste, 

Forwery of my labour al the day, 

Tok reste, that made me to slepe faste; 

And in my slep I mette, as that I lay, 95 

How Affrican, ryght in the same aray 

That Cipion hym say, byfore that tyde, 

Was come, and stod right at my bedis syde. 

The wery huntere, slepynge in his bed, 

To wode agen his mynde goth anon; 100 

The juge dremyth how hise pleis been sped; 

The cartere dremyth how his carte is gon ; 

The riche of gold, the knyght fyght with his fon; 

The syke met he drynkyth of the tunne; 

The lovere met he hath his lady wonne. 105 

Can I nat seyn if that the cause were 

For I hadde red of Affrican byforen, 

That made me to mete that he stod there; 

But thus seyde he, "Thow hast the so wel born 

In lokynge of myn olde bok byforn, 110 

Of whiche Macrobye roughte nat a lyte, 

That sumdel of thy labour wolde I quyte." 

Cytherea, thow blysful lady swete, 

That with thy ferbrond dauntist whom thow lest, 

And madist me this swevene for to mete, 115 

Be thow myn helpe in this, for thow mayst best; 

As wisely as I seye the north-nor-west, 

Whan I began my swevene for to write, 

So yif me myght to ryme and ek tendyte. 

This forseyde Affrican me hente anon, 120 

And forth with hym unto a gate broughte 

Ryght of a park, wallid of grene ston, 

And ovyr the gatis with letteris large iwrowht, 

108 theere. 113 Cythera. 

/* ' "^ 



There were vers iwreten as me thought, 

On eythir syde, of ful gret difference, 125 

Of which I schal now seyn the pleyn sentence. 

"Thorw me men gon into that blysful place 

Of hertis hele, and dedly woundis cure ; 

Thorw me men gon onto the welle of grace, 

There grene and lusty May shal evere endure; 130 

This is the weye to al good aventure, 

Be glad, thow redere, and thy sorwe ofcaste. 

Al opyn am I, passe in, and sped the faste !" 

"Thorw me men gon," than spak that othir side, 

"Onto the mortal strokis of the spere, 135 

Of whiche Disdayn and Daunger is the gyde, 

That nevere yit shal freut ne levys here. 

This strem yow ledith to the sorweful were 

There as the fisch in prysoun is al drye ; 

Theschewyng is only the remedye." 140 

These vers of gold and blak iwretyn were, 

Of whiche I gan astonyd to beholde, 

For whi, that on encresede ay my fere, 

And with that othir gan myn lierte bolde ; 

That on me hette, that othir dede me colde, 145 

No wit hadde I for errour for to chese 

To entre, or flen, or me to save, or lese. 

Right as betwixsyn adamauntis two 

Of evene myght a pece of yryn set 

Ne hath no myght to meve too ne fro, 150 

For what that on may hale, that othir let, 

Ferde I, that nyste whethir me was bet 

To entre or leve, til Affrycan, my gide, 

Me hente, and shof in at the gatis wide. 

194 iwrete. 132 overcaste. 134 spat. 138 the om. 140 Ther shewing. 
141 wers. 152 best. 


And seyde, "It stant writyn in thy face 155 

Thyn errour, though thow telle it not to me; 

But dred the not to come into this place, 

For this writyng nys nothyng ment bi the, 

Ne by non, but he lovys serwaunt be, 

For thow of love hast lost thy stat, I gesse, 160 

As sek man hath of swet and byttyrnesse. 

But natheles, althow that thow be dul, 

Yit that thow canst not do, yit mayst thow se, 

For manye a man that may nat stonde a pul, 

It likyth hym at wrastelyng for to be, 165 

And demyn yit wher he do bet, or he, 

And there if thow haddist cunnyng for tendite, 

I shal the shewe mater for to wryte." 

With that myn hand he tok in his anon, 

Of whiche I confort kaughte, and went in faste; 170 

But Lord, so I was glad and wel-begoon ! 

For overal where that I myne eyen caste 

Were treis, clad with levys that ay shal laste, 

Eche in his kynde of colour fresch and greene 

As emeroude, that joye was to scene. 17 

The byldere ok, and ek the hardy assh; 

The pilere elm, the cof ere unto carayne ; 

The boxtre pipere ; holm, to whippis lasch ; 

The saylynge fyr; the cipresse, deth to pleyne; 

The shetere ew; the asp, for shaftys pleyne; 180 

The olyve of pes; and ek the dronke vyne; 

The victor palm; the laurer to devyne. 

A gardyn saw I, ful of blosmy bowys, 

Upon a rever in a grene mede, 

There as that swetnesse everemore inow is, 185 

With flouris white, blewe, and yelwe, and rede, 

161 hat. 170 went in that as. 183 blospemy. 185 that ther. 


And colde welle-stremys nothyng dede, 
That swemyn ful of smale fischis lighte, 
With fynnys rede and skalis sylvyr bryghte. 

On every bow the bryddis herde I synge 1QO 

With voys of aungel in here armonye, 

Som besyede hem here bryddis forth to brynge ; 

The litele conyes to here pley gunne hye; 

And ferthere al aboute I gan aspye 

The dredful ro, the buk and hert, and hynde, 195 

Squyrelis and bestis smale of gentil kynde. 

Of instreumentis of strengis in acord 

Herde I so pleye, and ravyshyng swetnesse, 

That God,, that makere is of al, and lord, 

Ne herde nevere betyr, as I gesse; 200 

Therwith a wynd, onethe it myght be lesse, 

Made in the levys grene a noyse softe, 

Acordaunt to the bryddis song alofte. 

The eire of that place so attempre was 

That nevere was grevaunce of hot ne cold; 205 

There wex ek every holsum spice and gres ; 

Ne no man may there waxe sek ne old, 

Yit was there joye more a thousent fold 

Than man can telle ; ne nevere wolde it nyghte, 

But ay cler day to ony manys syghte. 210 

Undyr a tre besyde a welle I say 

Cupide oure lord hise arwis forge and file, 

And at his f et his bowe al redy lay, 

And wel his doughtyr temperede al this whyle 

The hevedis in the welle, and with hire wile 215 

She couchede hem aftyr as they shulde serve, 

Some for to sle, and some to wounde and kerve. 

188 lite. 192 Som So. 204 erthe. 207 ne om.; waxe there. 216 as om. 


Tho was I war of Plesaunce anon ryght, 

And of Aray and Lust and Curteysie, 

And of the Craft that can and hath the myght 220 

To don be force a wight to don folye; 

Disfigurat was she, I nyl nat lye, 

And by hemself undyr an ok, I gesse, 

Saw I Delyt that stod with Gentilesse. 

I saw Beute, withoutyn ony atyr, 225 

And Youthe, ful of game, and Jolyte, 

Fool-hardynesse, and Flaterye, and Desyr, 

Messagerye, and Meede, and other thre, 

Here namys shul not here be told for me ; 

And upon pileris greete of jasper longe, 230 

I saw a temple of bras ifounded stronge. 

Aboute that temple daunsedyn alwey 

Wemen inowe, of whiche some ther were 

Fayre of hemself, and some of hem were gay, 

In kertelis al dischevele wente they there, 235 

That was here offys, alwey yer be yeere; 

And on the temple of dowvis white and fayre 

Saw I syttynge manye an hunderede peyre. 

Byfore the temple dore ful sobyrly 

Dame Pes sat, with a curtyn in hire hond; 240 

And by hire syde, wondyr discretly, 

Dame Pacience syttynge there I fond, 

With face pale, upon an hil of sond, 

And aldirnext withinne and ek withoute 

Byheste and Art and of here folk a route. 245 

Withinne the temple of sykys hoote as fuyr 
I herde a swow, that gan aboute renne, 
Whiche sikis were engenderede with desyr, 

221 before. 


That madyn every auter for to brenne 

Of newe flaume, and wel espyed I thenne 250 

That alle the cause of sorwe that they drye 

Cam of the bittere goddesse Jelosye. 

The god Priapus saw I, as I wente, 

Withinne the temple in sovereyn place stonde 

In swich aray as whan the asse hym shente 255 

With cri be nyghte, and with septure in his honde. 

Ful besyly men gunne asaye and fonde 

Upon his hed to sette of sundery hewe 

Garlondis ful of floury s fresche and newe. 

And in a prive corner in desport, 260 

Fond I Venus and hire porter Richesse, 

That was ful noble and hautayn of hyre port ; 

Derk was that place, but aftyrward lightnesse 

I saw a lyte, unnethe it myghte be lesse, 

And on a bed of gold sche lay to reste, 265 

Tyl that the hote sunne gan to weste. 

Hyre gilte heris with a goldene thred 

Ibounden were, untrussede as sche lay; 

And nakyd from the brest up to the hed 

Men myghte hyre sen, and sothly for to say 270 

The remenaunt was wel keverede, to my pay, 

Ryght with a subtyl covercheif of valence, 

Ther nas no thikkere cloth of no defense. 

The place yaf a thousent savouris sote, 

And Bacus, god of wyn, sat hire besyde ; 275 

And Sereis next, that doth of hungir boote; 

And, as I seyide, amyddis lay Cypride, 

To wham on kneis two yonge folk there cryede 

To ben here helpe; but thus I let hem lye, 

And ferthere in the temple I gan espie 280 

255 wan. 261 Venus Febus. 270 myghthe. 272 rygh. 


That in dispit of Dyane the chaste 

Ful manye a bowe ibroke hyng on the wal 

Of maydenys, swiche as gunne here tymys waste 

In hyre servyse; ipeyntede were overal 

Ful manye a story, of whiche I touche shal 285 

A fewe, as of Calyxte, and Athalante, 

And manye a mayde, of whiche the name I wante. 

Semyramus, Candace, and Hercules, 

Biblis, Dido, Thisbe, and Piramus, 

Tristram, Isaude, Paris, and Achilles, 290 

Eleyne, Cliopatre, and Troylus, 

Silla, and ek the modyr of Romulus, 

Alle these were peyntid on that othir syde, 

And al here love, and in what plyt they deyde. 

Whan I was come agen unto the place 295 

That I of spak, that was so sote and grene, 

Forth welk I tho, myselvyn to solace. 

Tho was I war, wher that ther sat a queene 

That as of lyght the someris sunne shene 

Passith the sterre, right so overmesure 300 

She f ayrere was than ony creature. 

And in a launde, upon an hil of flouris, 

Was set this noble goddesse Nature. 

Of braunchis were here hallis and here bouris 

Iwrought after here cast and here mesure; 305 

Ne there nas foul that comyth of engendrure 

That they ne were al prest in here presence 

To take hire dom, and yeve hire audyence. 

For this was on seynt Valentynys day, 

Whan every bryd comyth there to chese his make, 310 

Of every kynde that men thynke may, 

286 Calyote. 291 Troylis. 299 lygh. 805 iwrough; mesuris. 309 Vclantynys. 


And that so huge a noyse gan they make 

That erthe and eyr and tre and every lake 

So ful was, that onethe was there space 

For me to stonde, so ful was al the place. 315 

And right as Aleyn in the Pleynt of Kynde 

Devyseth Natur in aray and face, 

In swich aray men myghte hire there fynde. 

This nobil emperesse, ful of grace, 

Bad every foul to take his owene place 320 

As they were wonyd alwey fro yer to yeere, 

Seynt Valentynys day to stondyn theere. 

That is to seyn, the foulis of ravyne 

Were heyest set, and thanne foulis smale 

That etyn as hem Natur wolde enclyne, 325 

As werm or thyng of which I telle no tale ; 

And watyr foul sat loueste in the dale; 

But foul that lyvyth be sed sat on the grene, 

And that so fele, that wondyr was to sene. 

There myghte men the ryal egle fynde, 330 

That with his sharpe lok persith the sunne, 

And othere eglis of a lowere kynde, 

Of whiche that clerkis wel devyse cunne; 

Ther was the tiraunt with his federys dunne 

And grey, I mene the goshauk, that doth pyne 335 

To bryddis for his outrageous ravyne. 

The gentyl facoun, that with his feet distraynyth 

The kyngis hand ; the hardy sperhauk eke, 

The quaylis f oo ; the merlioun that paynyth 

Hymself ful of te the larke for to seke ; 340 

There was the douve, with hire eyen meke; 

The j elous swan, ayens hire deth that syngith ; 

The oule ek, that of deth the bode bryngyth. 

822 Volantynys. 316 righ. 826 of which om.; no my. 335 And A. 
339 merilioun. 


The crane geaunt, with his trompis soun; 

The thef the choghe, and ek the jangelynge pye; 345 

The skornynge j ay ; the elis f o, heroun ; 

The false lapwynge, ful of trecherye ; 

The starlyng, that the conseyl can bewreye ; 

The tame rodok, and the coward kyte; 

The kok, that orloge is of thorpis lyte. 350 

The sparwe, Venus sone ; the nyghtyngale, 

That clepith forth the grene levys newe ; 

The swalwe, mortherere of the flyes smale 

That makyn hony of flouris frosche and newe; 

The wedded turtil, with hire herte trewe; 355 

The pokok, with his aungelis clothis bryghte; 

The fesaunt, skornere of the cok be nyghte. 

The wakyr goos, the cokkow most onkynde; 

The popynjay, ful of delicasye; 

The drake, stroyere of his owene kynde; 360 

The stork, the wrekere of avouterye; 

The hote cormeraunt of glotenye; 

The raven wys ; the crowe, with vois of care ; 

The thurstil old, the frosty feldefare. 

What shulde I seyn? Of foulys every kynde 365 

That in this world hath federis and stature 

Men myghtyn in that place assemblede fynde 

Byfore the noble goddesse, Nature. 

And everiche of hem dede his besy cure 

Benygnely to chese or for to take, 370 

By hire acord, his formel or his make. 

But to the poynt : Nature held on hire hond 

A formele egle, of shap the gentilleste 

That evere she among hire werkis fond, 

The moste benygne, and the goodlieste. 37' 

845 choghe crowe. 353 flyes foulis. 863 wit. 


In hire was everi vertu at his reste 

So fer-forth, that Nature hireself hadde blysse 

To loke on hire, and ofte hire bek to kysse. 

Nature, vicarye o the almyghty lord 

That hot, cold, hevy, lyght, moyst, and dreye 380 

Hath knyt with evene noumberis of acord, 

In esy voys gan for to speke and seye, 

"Foulis, tak hed of my centence, 1 preye ; 

And for youre ese in fortheryng of youre nede, 

As faste as I may speke, I wele yow speede. 385 

Ye knowe wel, how Seynt Valentynys day 

By my statute and thorw my governaunce, 

Ye come for to cheese, and fle youre wey, 

Youre makis, as I prike yow with plesaunce ; 

But natheles, my ryghtful ordenaunce 390 

May I nat breke, for al this world to wynne, 

That he that most is worthi shal begynne. 

The terslet egle, as that ye knowe ful wel, 

The foul ryal above every degre, 

The wyse and worthi, secre, trewe as stel, 395 

Whiche I have formyd, as ye may wel se, 

In every part as it best likyth me, 

It nedith not, his shap yow to devyse, 

He shal ferst chese, and spekyn in his gyse. 

And aftyr hym, by ordere shul ye chese 400 

Aftyr youre kynde, everiche as ye lykyth, 
And as youre hap is, shul ye wynne or lese. 
But which of yow that love most entrikyth, 
God synde hym hire that soryest for hym sykyth." 
And therwithal the tersel gan she calle, 405 

And seyde, "My sone, the choys is to yow falle. 
384 yore (1J. 400 ye they. 


But natheles, in this condicioun 

Mot be the choys of everich that is heere ; 

That she agre to his eleccioun, 

What so he be, that shulde be hire feere. 410 

This is oure usage alwey, fro yer to yeere ; 

And ho so may at this tyme have his grace, 

In blisf ul tyme he cam into this place !" 

With hed enclyned, and with humble cheere, 

This ryal tersel spak, and tariede noht; 415 

"Unto my sovereyn lady, and not my fere, 

I chese, and ches with wil and herte and thought 

The f ormel on youre hond, so wel iwrought ; 

Whos I am al, and evere wele hire serve, 

Do what hire lest, to do me leve or sterve ; 420 

Besekynge hire of merci and of grace, 

As she that is my lady sovereyne, 

Or let me deye present in this place ; 

For certis, longe I may nat lyve in payne, 

For in myn herte is korvyn every veyne, 425 

And havynge only reward to my trouthe, 

My dere herte, have of my wo sum routhe. 

And if that I to hyre be founde untrewe, 

Dishobeysaunt or wilful necligent, 

Avauntour, or in proces love a newe, 430 

I preye to yow this be my jugement. 

That with these foulis be I al torent, 

That ilke day that evere she me fynde 

To hire untrewe or in my gilt unkynde. 

And syn that hire lovyth non so wel as I, 43 

Al be it that she* me nevere of love beheete, 
Thanne ouhte she be myn, thourgh hire mercy, 

416 myn. 417 ches shes. 431 myn 434 vntrere. 436 she he. 


For othir bond can I non on hire knette, 

Ne nevere for no wo ne shal I lette 

To servyn hire, how fer so that she wende. 440 

Say what yow leste, my tale is at an ende." 

Ryght as the fresche rede rose newe 

Ayen the somyr sunne coloured is, 

Ryght so for shame al wexen gan hire hewe 

Of this formel, whan she herde al this ; 445 

She neythir answerde wel, ne seyde amys, 

So sore abashat was she, tyl that Nature 

Seyde, "Doughter, drede the nought, I yow assure." 

Anothir tersel egle spak anon 

Of lower kynde, seyde, "That shal nat be; 450. 

I love hire bet than ye don, be Seynt Jon, 

Or at the leste I love as wel as ye, 

And longere have servyd hire in my degre ; 

And if she shulde a lovid for long lovynge, 

To me fullonge hadde be the gerdonynge. 455 

I dar ek seyn, if she me fynde fals, 

Unkynde, or jangelere, or rebel ony wyse, 

Or gelous, do me hangyn by the hals ; 

And but I bere me in hire servyse 

As wel as that my wit can me suffyse 460 

From poynt to poynt, hyre honour for to save, 

Tak ye my lif, and al the good I have." 

The thredde tercel egle answerde tho, 
"Now, serys, ye seen the lytil leyser heere, 
For every foul cryeth out to ben ago 465 

Forth with his mak, or with his lady deere ; 
And ek Nature hireself ne wele not heere 
For taryinge here not half that I wolde seye ; 
And but I speke, I mot for sorwe deye. 
488 knette areete. 442 frosche. 460, 462 myn. 461 to in. 462 the. 


But n^ig servyse avante I me nothing, 470 

M>ut as possible is me to deye today 

For wo, as he that hath ben languyssynge 

This twenty yeer, and as wel happyn may, 

A man may servyn bet and more to pay 

In half a yer althau it were no moore, 475 

Than sum man doth, that servyd hath ful yoore. 

I sey not this by me, for I ne can 

Don no servyse that may my lady plese ; 

But I dar seyn, I am hire treweste man, 

As to my dom, and fayneste wolde hire ese; 480 

At shorte wordis, til that deth me sese 

I wele ben heris, where I wake or wynke, 

And trewe in al that herte may bethynke." 

Of al myn lyf, syn that day I was born, 

So gentil pie in love or othir thyng 485 

Ne herde nevere no man me beforn, 

Ho that hadde leyser and cunnyng 

For to reherse hyre cher and hire spekyng ; 

And from the morwe gan this speche laste 

Tyl dounward drow the sunne wondir faste. 490 

The noyse of foulis for to ben delyvered 

So loude ronge, "Have don, and lat us wende," 

That wel wende I, the wode hadde al toslyvered. 

"Cum of," they criedyn, "Alias, ye wele us shende; 

Whan shal youre cursede pletynge havyn an ende? 495 

How shulde a juge eythir partie leve 

For ye or nay, withoutyn othir preve ?" 

The goos, the cokkow, and the doke also 
So cryede, "kek kek," "kokkow," "quek quek," hye, 
That thourw myne erys the noyse wente tho. 500 

The goos seyde, "Al this nys not worth a flye ; 
471 But as That; to me. 476 hath servyd. 482 where were. 494 shynde. 



But I can shappe herof a remedie, 

And I wele seye myn verdit fayre and swythe, 

For watyr foul, ho so be wroth or blythe." 

"And I for werm foul/' quod the fol kokkowe, 505 

"And I wele of myn owene autorite, 

For comun profit tak the charge nowe, 

For to delyvere us is gret charite." 

"Ye may onbyde a while yit, perde," 

Quod the turtil, "if it be youre wille. 510 

A wiht may speke, hym were as fayr ben stylle. 

I am a sed foul, on the onworthieste, 

That wot I wel, and litil of cunnynge ; 

But bet is, that a wyhtis tunge reste 

Than entirmetyn hym of suche doinge 515 

Of which he neythir rede can, ne f ynde ; 

And who so doth ful foule, hymself acloyith, 

For offys uncommyttid ofte anoyeth." 

Nature, which that alwey hadde an ere 

To murmur of the lewedenesse behynde, 520 

With facound voys seyde, "Hold youre tungis, there, 

And I shal sone, I hope, a conseyl fynde 

Yow to delyvere and from this noyse unbynde. 

I juge of every folk men shul on calle, 

To seyn the verdit for yow foulys alle." 525 

Assentid was to this conclusioun 

The briddis alle, and foulis of ravyne 

Han chosyn fyrst, by playn eleccioun, 

The terselet of the facoun to diffyne 

Al here centence, as hem leste to termyne, 530 

And to Nature hym gunne to presente ; 

And she acceptyth hym with glad entente. 

507 the charge nowe on no charghowe. 511 wiht whit. 515 suhe. 518 un 
commyttid onquit. 520 behynde om. 524 of on. 527 lauyne. 


The terselet seyde than in this manere: 

"Ful hard were it to prove by resoun 

Who lovyth best this gentil formele heere, 535 

For everych hath swich replicacioun 

That non by skillis may been brought adoun. 

I can not se that argumentis avayle; 

Thanne semyth it there muste be batayle." 

"Al redy !" quod this eglis terslet tho. 540 

"Nay, seris," quod he, "if that I durste it seye, 

Ye don me wrong, myn tale is not ido, 

For, seris, ne takith not a-gref, I preye, 

It may not gon as ye wolde in this weye ; 

Oure is the voys that han the charg on honde, 545 

And to the jugis dom ye motyn stonde. 

And therfore pes ; I seye, as to myn wit 

Me wolde thynke how that the worthiest 

Of knyghthod and lengest hath used it, 

Most of estat, of blod the gentilleste, 550 

Were sittyngest for hire, if that her leste; 

And of these thre she wot hireself, I trowe, 

Whiche that he be, for it is light to knowe." 

The watyr foulis han here hedis leid 

Togedere, and of a short avysement 55^ 

Whan everryche hadde his large gole seyd, 

They seydyn, sothly, al be on assent, 

How that the goos with hire facounde so gent, 

"That so desyrith to pronounce oure nede, 

Shal telle oure tale," and preyede God hym spede. 56( 

As for these watyr foulis tho began 
The goos to speke, and in his kakelynge 
He seyde, "Pes, now tak kep, every man, 
And herkenyth which a resoun I shal brynge. 

538 terslet ; than om. 551 her he. 558 it here. 


Myn wit is sharp, I love no taryinge; 565 

I seye, I rede hym, thow he were myn brothir, 
But she wele love hym, let hym take anothir." 

"Lo, here a perfit resoun of a goos !" 

Quod the sperhauk, "nevere mot he the ! 

Lo, sich it is to have a tunge loos. 570 

Now, perde, fol, now were it bet for the 

Han holde thyn pes, than shewe thyn nysete ! 

It lyth nat in his myght, ne in his wille, 

But soth is seyd, a fol can not ben stille." 

The laughtere aros of gentil foulis alle, 575 

And right anon the sed foul chosyn hade 

The turtel trewe, and gunne hire to hem calle, 

And preyede hire for to seyn the sothe sadde 

Of this matere, and axsede what she radde. 

And she answerde, that, pleynly, hire entente 580 

She wolde it shewe, and sothly what she mente. 

"Nay, God forbede a lovere shulde chaunge," 

The turtel seyde, and wex for shame red, 

"Thow that his lady evere more be straunge, 

Yit lat hym serve hire, til that he be ded. 585 

Forsothe I preyse nat the gosis red; 

For thow sche deyede, I wolde non othir make, 

I wele ben hire til that the deth me take." 

"Wei bordit!" quod the doke, "by myn hat! 

That men shul lovyn alwey causeles, 590 

Who can a resoun f ynde, or wit, in that ? 

Daunsith he murye that is myrtheles? 

What shulde I rekke of hym that is recheles ? 

Kek kek," yit seith the doke, ful wel and fay re, 

"There been mo sterris, God wot, than a payre !" 595 

573 mygh. 576 righ. 579 rardde. 577, 583 tersel. 



"Now, fy, cherl," quod the gentil terselet, 

"Out of the donghil cam that word ful right; 

Thow canst nat seen what thyng is wel beset; 

Thow farst by love as oulys don by lyght, 

The day hem blent, but wel they sen be nyght. 600 

Thy kynde is of so low a wrechednesse 

That what love is, thow canst nat seen ne gesse." 

Tho gan the kokkow putte hym forth in pres 

For foul that etith werm, and seyde blyve, 

"So I," quod he, "may have my make in pes, 605 

I reche nat how longe that ye stryve, 

Lat eche of hem ben soleyn al here lyve, 

This is myn red, syn they may nat acorde, 

This shorte lessoun nedith nat recorde." 

"Ye, have the glotoun fild inow his paunche, 610 

Thanne are we wel," seyde thanne a merlioun, 

"Thow mortherere of the heysoge on the braunche 

That broughte the forth, thow reutheles glotoun, 

Leve thow soleyn, wermes corupcioun, 

For no fors is of lak of thy nature; 

Go, lewed be thow, whil that the world may dure !" 

"Now pes," quod Nature, "I comaunde here, 

For I have herd al youre opynyoun, 

And in effect yit be we not the nere ; 

But fynally, this is my conclusioun, 

That she hireself shal han the eleccioun 

Of whom hire lest, and who be wroth and blythe, 

Hym that she chesith, he shal hire han as swithe. 

For syn it may not here discussid be 
Who lovyth hire best, as seyth the terselet, 
Thanne wele I don hire this favour, that she 

596 fy sey ; terslet. 600 nygh. 601 wrechednese. 602 gese. 604 bl: 
613 reufulles. 614 werm. 623 as a. 625 terslet. 




Shal ban hym on horn hire herte is set, 

And he hire, that his herte hath on hire knet, 

Thus juge I Nature, for I may not lye 

To non estat, I have non othir eye. 630 

But as for conseyl for to chese a make, 

If, I were Resoun, certis, thanne wolde I 

Conseyle yow the ryal tersel take, 

As seyde the terselet, ful sky] fully, 

As for the gentilleste and most worthi, 635 

Which I have wrought so wel to my plesaunce, 

That to yow oughte to been a suffisaunce." 

With dredful vois the formel tho answerde, 

"My rightful lady, goddesse of Nature, 

Soth is that I am evere undyr youre yerde, 640 

As is anothir lyvis creature, 

And mot ben youre, whil that my lyf may dure ; 

And therfore grauntyth me my ferste bone, 

And myn entent that wele I seyn wol sone." 

"I graunte it yow," quod she, and than a-non 645 

This formel egle spak in this degre: 

"Almyghty queen, unto this yer be gon, 

I axe respit for to avise me, 

And af tyr that to have my choys al f re ; 

This al and sum that I wele speke and seye, 650 

Ye gete no more al thow ye do me deye. 

I wele nat serve Venus ne Cupide 
Forsothe as yit, be no manere weye." 
"Now syn it may non othirwise betyde," 
Quod tho Nature, "heere is no more to seye, 655 

Thanne wolde I that these foulis were aweye, 
Eche with his make, for taryinge lengere heere," 
And seyde hem thus, as ye shul aftyr here. 
628 knyt. 645 than that. 658 hem hynu 



"To yow speke I, ye tersletis," quod Nature, 
"Beth of good herte and servyth, alle thre; 
A yer ne is nat so longe to endure, 
And eche of yow peignynge in his degre 
For to do wel ; for God wot quit is she 
For yow this yer, what aftyr so befalle, 
This entyrmes is dressid for yow alle." 

And whan this werk al brought was to an ende, 

To every foul Nature yaf his make 

By evene acord, and on here weye they wende. 

But lord, the blisse and joye that they make, 

For ech gan othir in his wyngis take, 

And with here nekkis eche gan othyr wynde, 

Thankynge alwey the noble queen of kynde. 

But fyrst were chosyn foulis for to synge, 
As yer be yer was alwey the usance 
To synge a roundele at here departynge, 
To don to Nature honour and plesaunce ; 
The note, I trow, imakid were in Fraunce. 
The wordis were sweche as ye may fynde 
The nexte vers, as I now have in mynde. 

Nowe welcome somer, with thy sonne softe> 
That hast thes wintres wedres ovire-shake, 
And drevyne away the longe nyghtes blake. 

Saynt Valentyne that ert ful hye olofte, 
Thus syngen smale foules for thy sake 
Nowe welcome somer, with thy sonne softe, 
That hast thes wintres wedres ovire-shake. 

Wele han they cause forto gladen ofte 

Sethe ech of hem recoverede hathe hys make, 

Ful blisseful mowe they ben when they wake. 

663 Quit what. 680 thy om. 






Nowe welcome somer, with thy sonne softe, 690 

That hast thes rvintres wedres ovire-shake, 
And drevyne away the longe nyghtes blake. 

And with the shoutyng, whan the song was do, 

That foulys madyn at here flyght awey 

I wok, and othere bokys tok me to 695 

To rede upon ; and yit I rede alwey 

In hope, I wis, to rede so sum day 

That I shal mete sum thyng for to fare 

The bet, and thus to rede I nele nat spare. 

Explicit parliamentum Auium In die sancti Falentini ten- 
turn secundum Galfridum Chaucer. Deo gracias. 

694 the foulys 


The Prologue. 

A thousent sythis have I herd men telle 

That there is joye in hevene, and peyne in helle, 

And I acorde wel that it be so ; 

But natheles, this wit I wel also, 

That there ne is non that dwellyth in this cuntre 5 

That eythir hath in helle or hevene ibe, 

Ne may of it non othere weyis wytyn, 

But as he hath herd seyd, or founde it wrytyn, 

For by asay there may no man it preve. 

But Goddis forbode, but men schulde leve 10 

Wel more thyng than men han seyn with eye ! 

Men schal nat wenyn every thyng a lye 

For that he say it nat of yore ago ; 

God wot, a thyng is nevere the lesse so, 

Thow every wyght ne may it nat ise; 15 

Bernard the monk ne say nat al, parde ! 

Thanne motyn we to bokys that we fynde, 

Thourw whiche that olde thyngis ben in mynde, 

And to the doctryne of these olde wyse 

Yevyn credence, in every skylful wyse, 20 

And trowyn on these olde aprovede storyis 

Of holynesse, of regnys, of victoryis, 

Of love, of hate, of othere sundery thyngis, 

Of whiche I may nat make rehersyngys. 

And if that olde bokis weryn aweye, 25 

Iloryn were of remembrance the keye. 

Wel oughte us thanne on olde bokys leve, 

Thereas there is non othyr asay be preve. 

And as for me, thow that myn wit be lite, 
On bokys for to rede I me delyte, SO 

And in myn herte have hem in reverence, 
And to hem yeve swich lust and swich credence 
That there is wel onethe game non 
That from my bokys make me to gon, 
34 myne (and elsewhere in this MS.). 


The prologe of .ix. goode Wymmen. 

A thousande tymes I have herd men telle 

That ther ys j oy in hevene, and peyne in helle, 

And I acorde wel that it ys so ; 

But netheles, yet wot I wel also,, 

That ther is noon duellyng in this contree 5 

That eythir hath in hevene or helle y-be, 

Ne may of hit noon other weyes witen, 

But as he hath herd seyde or founde it writen, 

For by assay ther may no man it preve. 

But God forbede, but men shulde leve 10 

Wel more thing then men han seen with eye ! 

Men shal not wenen every thing a lye 

But y f himself e yt seeth, or elles dooth ; 

For God wot, thing is never the lasse sooth, 

Thogh every wight ne may it nat ysee ; 1 5 

Bernarde the monke ne saugh nat all, pardee ! 

Than mote we to bokes that we fynde, 

Thurgh which that olde thinges ben in mynde, 

And to the doctrine of these olde wyse 

Yeve credence, in every skylful wise, 20 

That tellen of these olde appreved stories, 

Of holynesse, of regnes, of victories, 

Of love, of hate, of other sondry thynges, 

Of whiche I may not maken rehersynges. 

And yf that olde bokes were awey, 25 

Yloren were of remembraunce the key. 

Wel ought us thanne honouren and beleve 

These bokes, there we han noon other preve. 

And as for me, though that I konne but lyte, 

On bokes for to rede I me delyte, 30 

And to hem yive I feyth and ful credence, 

And in myn herte have hem in reverence 

So hertely, that ther is game noon 

That fro my bokes maketh me to goon, 

2 That om. 8 acord. 6 or in. 26 ylorne. 88 hertly. 



But it be other upon the halyday, 

Or ellis in the joly tyme of May; 

Whan that I here the smale foulys synge, 

And that the flouris gynne for to sprynge, 

Farwel, my stodye, as lastynge that sesoun ! 

Now have I therto this condycyoun 

That of alle the flouris in the mede 

Thanne love I most these flouris white and rede 

Swyche as men calle dayesyis in oure toun ; 

To hem have I so gret affeccioun, 

As I seyde erst, whan comyn is the May 

That in my bed there dawith me no day 

That I ne am up, and walkynge in the mede 

To sen these flouris agen the sunne to sprede 

Whan it upryseth be the morwe schene, 

The longe day thus walkynge in the grene. 





And whan the sunne gynnys for to weste 
Thanne closeth it, and drawith it to reste, 
So sore it is aferid of the nyght, 
Til on the morwe, that it is dayis lyght; 
This dayeseye, of alle flouris flour, 
Fulfyld of vertu and of alle honour, 
And evere ilike fayr and fresch of hewe, 
As wel in wyntyr as in somyr newe 
Fayn wolde I preysyn if I coude, aryght; 
But wo is me, it lyth nat in my myght ! 



For wel I wot, that folk han here beforn 
Of makynge ropyn, and lad awey the corn. 

51 begynnys. 57 frosch. 


But yt be seldom on the holyday; 35 

Save certeynly, whan that the monethe of May 

Is comen, and that I here the foules synge, 

And that the floures gynnen for to sprynge, 

Fairewel my boke and my devocioun. 

Now have I thanne suche a condicioun, 40 

That of al the floures in the mede 

Thanne love I most thise floures white and rede, 

Suche as men callen daysyes in her toune. 

To hem have I so grete affeccioun, 

As I seyde erst, whanne comen is the May, 45 

That in my bed ther daweth me no day 

That I nam uppe and walkyng in the mede, 

To seen this floure ayein the sonne sprede, 

Whan it uprysith erly by the morwe. 

That blisful sighte softneth al my sorwe; 50 

So glad am I, whan that I have presence 

Of it, to doon it alle reverence, 

As she that is of alle floures flour, 

Fulfilled of al vertue and honour, 

And evere-ilyke faire and fressh of hewe, 55 

And I love it, and ever ylike newe, 

And evere shal til that myn herte dye ; 

Al swere I nat, of this I wol nat lye, 

Ther loved no wight hotter in his lyve. 

And whan that hit ys eve, I renne blyve, 60 

As sone as evere the sonne gynneth weste, 

To seen this flour, how it wol go to reste, 

For fere of nyght, so hateth she derknesse ! 

Hire chere is pleynly sprad in the brightnesse 

Of the sonne, for ther yt wol unclose. 

Alias, that I ne had Englyssh, ryme or prose, 

Suffisant this flour to preyse aryght ! 

But helpeth, ye that han konnyng and myght, 

Ye lovers, that kan make of sentiment; 

In this case oghte ye be diligent 

To forthren me somwhat in my labour, 

Whethir ye ben with the leef or with the flour. 

For wel I wot that ye han herbiforne 

Of makynge ropen, and lad awey the corne ; 

50 sight. 52, 53 al. 57 hert. 69 sentment. 70 oght. 




I come aftyr, glenynge here and ther, 

And am ful glad if I may fynde an er 

Of ony goodly word that they han laft. 65 

And if it happe me rehersen eft 

That they han in here fresche songis said, 

I hope that they wele nat ben evele apayed ; 

Sithe it is seyd in fortheryng and honour 

Of hem that eythir servyn lef or flour. 70 

For trustyth wel, I ne have nat undyrtake 

As of the lef agayn the flour to make, 

Ne of the flour to make ageyn the lef, 

No more than of the corn agen the shef ; 

For as to me is lefere non ne lothere, 75 

I am witholde yit with never nothire; 

I not ho servyth lef ne who the flour, 

That nys nothyng the entent of my labour. 

For this werk is al of anothyr tunne 

Of olde story er swich strif was begunne. 80 

But wherfore that I spak to yeve credence 

To bokys olde, and don hem reverence, 

Is for men schulde autoriteis beleve 

There as there lyth non othyr asay be preve ; 

For myn entent is, or I fro yow fare, 85 

The nakede tixt in Englis to declare 

Of manye a story, or ellis of manye a geste, 

As autourys seyn, levyth hem if yow leste. 

Whan passed was almost the monyth of May, 

And I hadde romed al the s ornery s day 90 

The grene medewe, of which that I yow tolde, 

Upon the fresche dayseie to beholde, 

And that the sonne out of the south gan weste, 

And clothede was the flour, and gon to reste 

For derknese of the nyht of which sche dradde, 95 

Horn to myn hous ful swiftly I me spadde, 

And in a lytyl erber that I have 

66 reherse. 67, etc., frosch. 80 old. 93 souht. 


And I come after, glenyng here and there, 75 

And am ful glad yf I may fynde an ere 

Of any goodly word that ye han left. 

And thogh it happen me rehercen eft 

That ye han in your fresshe songes sayede, 

Forbereth me, and beth nat evele apayede, 80 

Syn that ye see I do yt in the honour 

Of love, and eke in service of the flour 

Whom that I serve, as I have witte or myght. 

She is the clerenesse and the verray lyght, 

That in this derke worlde me wynt and ledyth. 85 

The hert inwith my sorwfull brest yow dredith 

And loveth so sore, that ye ben verrayly 

The maistresse of my witte and no thing I. 

My worde, my werkes, ys knyt so in youre bond, 

That as an harpe obeieth to the hond, 90 

And maketh it soune after his fyngerynge, 

Ryght so mowe ye oute of myn herte bringe 

Swich vois, ryght as yow lyst to laughe or pleyn, 

Be ye my gide and lady sovereyn; 

As to myn erthely god, to yowe I calle, 95 

Bothe in this werke, and in my sorwes alle. 

But wherfore that I spake, to yive credence 

To olde stories, and doon hem reverence 

And that men mosten more thyng beleve 

Then men may seen at eighe, or elles preve? 100 

That shal I seyn^ whanne that I see my tyme ; 

I may not al attones speke in ryme. 

My besy gost, that thrusteth alwey newe 

To seen this flour so yong, so fressh of hewe, 

Constreyned me with so gledy desire, 105 

That in myn herte I feele yet the fire 

That made me to ryse, er yt wer day, 

(And this was now the firste morwe of May), 

With dredful hert and glad devocioun 

For to ben at the resureccioun 110 

Of this flour whan yt shulde unclose 

Agayne the sonne, that roos as rede as rose ; 

That in the brest was of the beste that day 

That Agenores doghtre ladde away. 

79 fressh. 92 hert. 96 in (2) om. 102 al om. 108 this om. 


Ibenchede newe with turwis fresche i-grawe, 

I bad men schulde me my couche make ; 

For deynte of the newe somerys sake, 100 

I bad hem strowe flouris on my bed. 

Whan I was layd, and hadde myn eyen hid, 

I fel aslepe withinne an our or two. 

Me mette, how I was in the medewe tho 

And that I romede in that same gyse 105 

To sen that flour as ye han herd devyse. 

Fayr was this medewe,, as thoughte me, overal, 
With flouris sote enbroudit was it al, 
As for to speke of gomme, or erbe, or tre, 

Comparisoun may non imakede be; 110 

For it surmountede pleynly alle odours 

And eek of ryche beute alle flourys. 

Forgetyn hadde the erthe his pore estat 

Of wyntyr, that hym nakede made and mat, 

And with his swerd of cold so sore hadde grevyd; 115 

Now hadde the tempre sonne al that relevyd, 

And clothede hym in grene al newe ageyn. 

The smale foulis, of the seson fayn, 

That from the panter and the net ben skapid, 

Upon the foulere that hem made awapid 120 

In wyntyr, and distroyed hadde hire brod, 

In his dispit hem thoughte it dede hem good 

To synge of hym, and in here song despise 

The foule cherl, that for his covetyse 

Hadde hem betrayed with his sophistrye. 125 

This was here song, "The foulere we defye !" 

Some songyn layes on the braunchis clere 

Of love and May, that joye it was to here, 

In worschepe and in preysyng of hire make, 

And of the newe blysful somerys sake, 

That sungyn, "Blyssede be Seynt Volentyn ! 
At his day I ches yow to be myn, 
Withoute repentynge, myn herte swete !" 
And therwithal here bekys gunne mete. 
The honour and the humble obeysaunces 
They dede, and after othere observauncys 

127 layes om. 128 May om. 135 obeysaunce. 136 And after dedyn. 



And doune on knes anoon-ryght I me sette, 115 

And, as I koude, this fresshe flour I grette, 

Knelyng alwey til it unclosed was 

Upon the smale, softe, swote gras, 

That was with floures swote enbrouded al 

Of swich suetnesse, and swich odour over-al, 120 

That for to speke of gomme, or herbe, or tree, 

Comparisoun may noon ymaked bee; 

For yt surmounteth pleynly alle odoures, 

And eek of riche beaute alle floures. 

Forgeten had the erthe his pore estate 125 

Of wyntir, that hem naked made and mate, 

And with his swerd of colde so sore greved ; 

Now hath thatempre sonne all that releved 

That naked was, and clad yt new agayn. 

The smale foules, of the seson fayn, 130 

That of the panter and the nette ben scaped, 

Upon the foweler that hem made awhaped 

In wynter, and distroyed hadde hire broode, 

In his dispite hem thoghte yt did hem goode 

To synge of hym, and in hir songe dispise 135 

The foule cherle, that for his covetise 

Had hem betrayed with his sophistrye. 

This was hire songe, "The foweler we deffye 

And al his crafte," and somme songen clere 

Layes of love, that joye it was to here, 140 

In worshipynge, and in preysinge of hir make, 

And for the newe blisful somers sake. 

Upon the braunches, ful of blosmes softe, 

In hire delyt they turned Hem ful ofte, 

And songen, "Blessed be Seynt Valentyne, 145 

For on his day I chees yow to be myne, 

With-outen repentyng, myn herte swete !" 

And therwithalle hire bekes gonnen meete, 

Yeldyng honour and humble obeysaunces 

To love, and diden hire othere observaunces 150 

116 fressh. 124 alle of ; eeTcom. 147 hert. 



Ryht plesyng onto Love and to Nature, 
So eche of hem doth wel to cryatur. 
This song to herken I dede al myn entent, 
For why, I mette I wiste what they ment. 


187 plesyng om. ; nature. 138 doth wel om.; cryaturys. 189 herkenyn. 



That longeth onto Love, and to Nature ; 
Construeth that as yow lyst, I do no cure. 
And thoo that hadde doon unkyndenesse, 
As dooth the tydif, for newfangelnesse 
Besoghte mercy of hir trespassynge, 155 

And humblely songen hire repentynge, 
And sworen on the blosmes to be trewe, 
So that hire makes wolde upon hem rewe ; 
And at the laste maden hire acord, 

Al founde they Daunger for a tyme a lord; 160 

Yet Pitee, thurgh his stronge gentil myght, 
Forgaf, and maked mercy passen ryght, 
Thurgh innocence and ruled curtesye. 
But I ne clepe nat innocence folye, 

Ne fals pitee, for vertue is the mene, 165 

As Etike seith, in swich maner I mene. 
And thus thise foweles, voide of al malice, 
Acordeden to love, and laften vice 
Of hate, and songen alle of oon acorde, 

"Welcome, somer, oure governour and lorde!" 170 

And Zepherus and Flora gentilly 
Yaf to the floures, softe and tenderly, 
Hire swoote breth, and made hem for to sprede, 
As god and goddesse of the floury mede, 
In whiche me thoght I myghte day by day 175 

Duellen alwey, the joly monyth of May, 
Withouten slepe, withouten mete or drynke. 
Adoune ful softely I gan to synke, 
And lenynge on myn elbowe and my syde, 
The longe day I shoope me for tabide, 180 

For nothing ellis, and I shal nat lye, 
But for to loke upon the daysie ; 
That men by reson wel it calle may 
The daisie, or elles the ye of day, 

The emperice and flour e of floures alle; 185 

I pray to God, that faire mote she falle, 
And alle that loven floures for hire sake ! 
But natheles, ne wene nat that I make 
In preysing of the flour agayn the leef, 
No more than of the corne agayn the sheef, 190 

For as to me, nys lever noon ne lother, 

153 urikyndnesse. 156 songe. 162 mad. 164 yt nat. 169 songe 175 myght 


Tyl at the laste a larke song above, 
"I se," quod she, "the myghty God of Love ; 
Lo yond he comyth, I se hise wyngis sprede !" 
Tho gan I loken endelong the mede, 

And saw hym come and in his hond a quene 145 

Clothid in ryal abyte, al of grene. 
A frette of goold sche hadde, next hyre her, 
And upon that a whit corone sche ber 
With many flourys, and I schal nat lye ; 

For al the world, ryght as the dayseye 1 50 

Icorounede is with white levys lite, 
Swiche were the flourys of hire corone white. 
For of o perle fyn and oryental 
Hyre white coroun was imakyd al; 

For whiche the white coroun above the grene 155 

Made hire lyk a dayseye for to sene, 
Considerede ek the fret of gold above. 
Iclothede was this myhty God of Love 
Of silk, ibroudede ful of grene grevys, 
A garlond on his hed of rose levys 
Stekid al with lylye flourys newe. 
But of his face I can not seyn the hewe ; 
For sekyrly, his face schon so bryhte 
That with the glem astonede was the syhte, 
A furlongwey I myhte hym not beholde. 165 

143 loke. 149 mane. 



I nam withholden yit with never nother 

Ne I not who serveth leef ne who the flour; 

Wei browken they her service or labour, 

For this thing is al of another tonne 195 

Of olde storye, er swiche thinge was begonne. 

Whan that the sonne out of the south gan west, 
And that this floure gan close and goon to rest, 
For derknesse of the nyght, the which she dred, 
Home to myn house ful swiftly I me sped, 200 

To goon to reste, and erly for to ryse, 
To seen this flour sprede, as I devyse; 
And in a litel herber that I have, 
That benched was on turves fressh ygrave, 
I bad men sholde me my couche make ; 205 

For deyntee of the newe someres sake, 
I bad hem strawen floures on my bed. 
Whan I was leyde, and had myn eyen hed, 
I fel on slepe inwith an houre or twoo. 

Me mette how I lay in the medewe thoo, 210 

And from afer come walkyng in the mede, 
To seen this flour that I love so and drede, 
The God of Love, and in his hande a quene, 
And she was clad in real habite grene. 

A fret of gold she hadde next her heer, 215 

And upon that a white coroune she beer, 
With flourouns smale, and I shal nat lye, 
For al the worlde ryght as a daysye 
Ycorouned ys with white leves lyte, 

So were the flowrouns of hire coroune white; 220 

For of o perle fyne, oriental, 
Hire white coroune was imaked al ; 
For which the white coroune above the grene 
Made hire lyke a daysie for to sene, 

Considered eke hir fret of golde above. 225 

Yclothed was this myghty God of Love 
In silke, enbrouded ful of grene greves, 
Inwith a fret of rede rose leves, 
The fresshest syn the worlde was first bygonne; 
His gilte here was corowned with a sonne, 230 

Istede of golde for hevynesse and wyght. 
Therwith me thoght his face shoon so bryght 
That wel unnethes myght I him beholde, 
192 mother. -HA.5 had. 216 corwne. 


But at the laste in hande I saw hym holde 

Two fery dartis, as the gleedys rede, 

And aungellych hyse wengis gan he sprede. 

And al be that men seyn that blynd is he, 

Algate me thoughte he myghte wel ise, 170 

For sternely on me he gan beholde 

So that his lokynge doth myn herte colde. 

And be the hond he held the noble quene 

Corouned with whit and clothede al in grene, 

So womanly, so benygne, and so meke, 175 

That in this world thow that men wolde seke, 

Half hire beute schulde men nat fynde 

In cryature that formede is be kynde. 

Hire name was Alceste the debonayre, 

I preye to God, that evere falle sche fayre! 180 

For ne hadde confort been of hire presence, 

I hadde be ded, withoutyn ony defence, 

For dred of Lovys wordys and his chere, 

As, whan tyme is, hereaftyr ye schal here. 

Byhynde this God of Love, upon this grene, 185 

I saw comynge of ladyis nynetene, 
In ryal abyte, a ful esy pas, 
And aftyr hem come of wemen swich a tras 
That syn that God Adam made of erthe, 
The thredde part of wemen, ne the f erthe, 190 

Ne wende I not by possibilite, 
Haddyn evere in this world ibe, 
And trewe of love these wemen were echon. 
Now whether was that a wondyr thyng or non, 
That ryht anon, as that they gunne espye 195 

This flour, whiche that I clepe the dayseye, 
Ful sodeynly they styntyn alle atonys, 
And knelede adoun, as it were for the nonys, 
And aftyr that they wentyn in cumpas 

Daunsynge aboute this flour an esy pas, 200 

And songyn, as it were, in carolewyse, 
This balade, whiche that I schal yow devyse. 

167 Two Tho. 172 both. 178 In on. 179 thebonayre. 


And in his hande me thoght I saugh him holde 

Twoo firy dartes, as the gledes rede, 235 

And aungelyke hys wynges saugh I sprede. 

And al be that men seyn that blynd ys he, 

Algate me thoghte that he myghte se, 

For sternely on me he gan byholde, 

So that his loking dooth myn herte colde. 240 

And by the hande he helde this noble quene, 

Corowned with white and clothed al in grene, 

So womanly, so benigne, and so meke 

That in this world thogh that men wolde seke, 

Half of hire beaute shulde men nat fynde 245 

In creature that formed ys by kynde. 

And therfore may I seyn, as thynketh me, 
This songe, in preysyng of this lady fre. 

238 thoght, myght. 240 hert. 244 wolde seke om. 245 MS. has onlj 
nat fynde. 




Hyd Absalon, thy gilte tressis clere; 

Ester, ley thow thy meknesse al adoun; 

Hyde, Jonathas, al thy f rendely manere ; 205 

Penolope, and Marcia Catoun, 

Mak of youre wyfhood no comparisoun ; 

Hyde ye youre beuteis, Ysoude and Elene, 

Alceste is here, that al that may destene. 

Thy fayre body, lat it nat apeere, 210 

Laveyne, and thow, Lucresse of Rome Toun, 

And Pollexene, that boughte love so dere, 

Ek Cleopatre with al thy passioun, 

Hide ye youre trouth in love and youre renoun; 

And thow, Tysbe, that hast for love swich peyne, 215 

Alceste is here, that al that may desteyne. 

Herro, Dido, Laodomya, alle in fere, 

Ek Phillis hangynge for thy Demophoun, 

And Canace, espied be thy chere, 

Ysiphile, bytrayed with Jasoun, 220 

Mak of youre trouthe in love no bost ne soun ; 

Nor Ypermystre or Adriane, ne pleyne; 

Alceste is here, that al that may disteyne. 

Whan that this balade al isongyn was, 

208, etc., thync, thyn. 2H ronoun. 


Hyde, Absolon, thy gilte tresses clere; 

Ester, ley thou thy mekenesse al adowne; 250 

Hyde, Jonathas, al thy frendly manere; 

Penalopee and Marcia Catoun, 

Make of youre wif hode no comparysoun ; 

Hyde ye youre beautes, Ysoude and Eleyne; 

My lady comith, that al this may disteyne. 255 

Thy faire body, lat yt nat appere, 

Lavyne; and thou, Lucresse of Rome toune, 

And Polixene, that boghten love so dere; 

And Cleopatre with al thy passyon, 

Hyde ye your trouthe of love and your renoun; 260 

And thou Tesbe, that hast of love suche peyne, 

My lady comith, that al this may disteyne. 

Herro, Dido, Laudomia, alle y-fere, 

And Phillis hangyng for thy Demophon, 

And Canace espied by thy chere, 265 

Ysiphile, betraysed with lason, 

Maketh of your trouthe neythir boost ne soune; 

Nor Ypermystre or Adriane, ye tweyne, 

My lady cometh, that al this may dysteyne. 

This balade may ful wel y-songen be, 270 

As I have seyde erst, by my lady free ; 

For certeynly, al thise mowe nat suffise 

To apperen wyth my lady, in no wyse. 

For as the sonne wole the fire disteyne, 

So passeth al my lady sovereyne, 275 

That ys so good, so faire, so debonayre; 

I prey to God, that ever f alle hire faire ! 

For nadde comfort ben of hire presence, 

I hadde ben dede withouten any defence, 

For drede of Loves wordes and his chere ; 280 

As when tyme ys, herafter ye shal here. 

Behynde this God of Love, upon the grene, 

I saugh comyng of ladyes nientene 

254 Elyene. 


Upon the softe and sote grene gras 225 

They settyn hem ful softely adoun, 
By ordere alle in cumpas, alle enveroun. 
Fyrst sat the God of Love, and thanne this queene, 
With the white corone clad in grene, 

And sithyn al the remenant by and by, 230 

As they were of degre, ful curteysly; 
Ne nat a word was spokyn in that place 
The mountenaunce of a furlongwey of space. 
I, lenynge faste by undyr a bente, 

Abod to knowe what this peple mente, 235 

As stille as ony ston; til at the laste 
The God of Love on me his eye caste, 
And seyde, "Ho restith there?" and I answerde 
Unto his axsynge, whan that I hym herde, 
And seyde, "Sere, it am I" ; and cam hym ner, 240 

And salewede hym. Quod he, "What dost thow her 
In my presence, and that so boldely? 
For it were bettere worthi trewely 
A werm to comen in my syht than thow." 
"And why, sere?" quod I, "and it lyke yow?" 245 

"For thow," quod he, "art therto nothyng able; 
My servauntis ben alle wyse and honourable, 
Thow art my mortal fo, and me warreyest, 
And of myne olde servauntis thow mysseyst, 
And hynderyst hem with thy translacyoun, 250 

And lettist folk to han devocyoun 
227 in veroun. 244 come. 


In real habite, a ful esy paas ; 

And after hem coome of wymen swich a traas, 285 

That syn that God Adam hadde made of erthe, 
The thridde part of mankynde, or the ferthe, 
Ne wende I not by possibilitee 
Had ever in this wide worlde ybee. 

And trewe of love thise women were echon. 290 

Now wheither was that a wonder thing or non, 
That ryght anoon as that they gonne espye 
Thys flour, which that I clepe the daysie, 
Ful sodeynly they stynten al attones, 

And knelede doune, as it were for the nones, 295 

And songen with o vois, "Heel and honour 
To trouthe of womanhede, and to this flour 
That bereth our alder pris in figurynge ; 
Hire white corowne beryth the witnessynge." 
And with that word, acompas enviroun, 300 

They setten hem ful softly adoun. 
First sat the God of Love, and syth his quene 
With the white corowne, clad in grene; 
And sithen al the remenaunt by and by, 
As they were of estaat, ful curteysly ; 305 

Ne nat a worde was spoken in the place 
The mountaunce of a furlong wey of space. 
I, knelyng by this floure in good entente, 
Aboode to knowen what this peple mente, 
As stille as any ston; til at the last 310 

This God of Love on me hyse eighen caste, 
And seyde, "Who kneleth there?" and I answerde 
Unto his askynge, whan that I it herde, 
And seyde, "Sir, it am I," and come him nere, 
And salwed him. Quod he, "What dostow here 315 

So nygh myn oune floure so boldely? 
Yt were better worthy trewely 
A worme to neghen ner my flour than thow." 
"And why, sire ?" quod I, "and yt lyke yow ?" 
"For thow/' quod he, "art therto nothing able. 320 

Yt is my relyke, digne and dely table, 
And thow my foo, and al my folke werreyest, 
And of myn olde servauntes thow mysseyest, 
And hynderest hem with thy translacioun, 
And lettest folke from hire devocioun 325 

294 styten. 297 To (1) The. 314 Sir om. 317 trewly. 


To servyn me, and haldist it folye 

To troste on me, thow mayst it nat denye, 

For in pleyn tixt, it nedyth nat to glose, 

Thow hast translatid the Romauns of the Rose, 255 

That is an eresye ageyns my lawe, 

And makyst wise folk fro me withdrawe. 

And thyhkist in thy wit, that is ful cole, 

That he nys but a verray propre fole 

That lovyth paramouris to harde and hote. 260 

Wei wot I therby, thow begynnyst dote, 

As olde folis whan here spiryt faylyth. 

Thanne blame they folk, and wete nat what hem ealyth ! 

Hast thow nat mad in Englys ek the bok 

How that Crisseyde Troylis forsok, 265 

In schewynge how that wemen han don mis ? 

Bit natheles, answere me now to this, 

Why noldist thow as wel a seyd goodnes 

Of wemen, as thow hast seyd wekedenes ? 

Was there no good matyr in thy mynde, 270 

Ne in alle thy bokys ne coudist thow nat fynde 

Sum story of wemen, that were goode and trewe ? 

Yis, God wot sixty bokys olde and newe 

Hast thow thyself, alle ful of storyis grete, 

That bothe Romaynys and ek Grekis trete 275 

Of sundery wemen, whiche lyf that they ladde, 

And evere an hunderede goode ageyn on badde. 

This knowith God, and alle clerkis ek, 

That usyn sweche materis for to sek. 

What seith Valerye, Titus, or Claudyan? 280 

What seith Jerome agayns Jovynyan? 

How clene maydenys and how trewe wyvys, 

How stedefaste wedewys durynge alle here lyvys 

Tellyth Jerome; and that nat of a fewe, 

But I dar seyn an hunderede on a rewe, 285 

That it is pete for to rede, and routhe, 

The wo that they endure for here trouthe. 

For to hyre love were they so trewe, 

That rathere than they wolde take a newe, 

They chose to be ded in sundery wyse, 290 

And deiedyn, as the story wele devyse. 

And some were brend, and some were cut the hals, 

And some dreynt, for they woldyn not be fals, 

262 spryt. 276 ledde. 289 wole. 293 thy. 



To serve me, and boldest it folye 

To serve love, thou maist yt nat denye; 

For in pleyne text, withouten nede of glose, 

Thou hast translated the Romaunce of the Rose, 

That is an heresye ayeins my lawe, 330 

And makest wise folke fro me withdrawe. 

And of Creseyde thou hast seyde as the lyste, 
That maketh men to wommen lasse triste 

That ben as trewe as ever was any steel. 

828 line defective in MS. 329 translated om. 


For alle kepid they here maydynhed, 

Or ellis wedlok, or here wedewehed; 295 

And this thing was nat kept for holynesse, 

But al for verray vertu and clennesse, 

And for men schulde sette on hem no lak ; 

And yit they were hethene, al the pak, 

That were so sore adrad of alle schame. 300 

These olde wemen kepte so here name, 

That in this world, I trowe, men schal nat fynde 

A man that coude be so trewe and kynde, 

As was the leste woman in that tyde. 

What seyth also the Epistelle of Ovyde 305 

Of trewe wyvys and of here labour? 

What Vincent, in his Estoryal Myrour? 

Ek al the world of autourys maystow here, 

Cristene and hethene, trete of swich matere, 

It nedyth nat al day thus for to endite. 310 

But yit I seye, what eylyth the to wryte 

The draf of storyis, and forgete the corn? 

Be Seynt Venus, of whom that I was born, 

Althow thow reneyed hast my lay, 

As othere olde folys, manye a day, 315 

Thow schalt repente it, so that it schal be sene !" 

Thanne spak Alceste, the worthyeste queene, 

And seyde, "God, ryght of youre curteysye, 

Ye motyn herkenyn if he can replye 

Ageyns these poyntys that ye han to hym mevid. 320 

A god ne schulde not thus been agrevyd, 

But of his deite he schal be stable 

And therto ryghtful and ek mercyable. 

He schal nat ryghtfully his yre wreke 

Or he have herd the tothyr partye speke. 325 

Al ne is nat gospel that is to yow pleynyd, 

The God of Love hereth manye a tale if eynyd ; 

For in youre court is manye a losengeour, 

And manye a queynte totulour acusour, 

That tabourryn in youre eres manye a thyng 330 

For hate, or for jelous ymagynyng, 

And for to han with you sum dalyaunce. 


808 the te ; mayst tow. 814 reneyist. 818 worthyere. 822 deite d 
828 losenger. 


Of thyn answere avise the ryght weel; 335 

For thogh that thou reneyed hast my lay, 

As other wrecches han doon many a day, 

By seynte Venus, that my moder ys, 

If that thou lyve, thou shalt repenten this 

So cruelly, that it shal wele be sene." 340 

Thoo spake this lady, clothed al in grene, 

And seyde, "God, ryght of youre curtesye, 

Ye moten herken yf he can replye 

Agayns al this, that ye have to him meved. 

A god ne sholde nat be thus agreved, 345 

But of hys deitee he shal be stable, 

And therto gracious, and merciable. 

And yf ye nere a god, that knowen alle, 

Thanne myght yt be, as I yow tellen shalle, 

This man to yow may falsly ben accused, 350 

That as by right him oughte ben excused. 

For in youre courte ys many a losengeour, 

And many a queynte totelere accusour, 

That tabouren in youre eres many a sown. 

Ryght aftir hire ymagynacioun, 355 

To have youre daliance, and for envie. 

836 that om. 838 seint. 858 aqueynt. 854 swon. 


Envye I preie to god yeve hire myschaunce ! 

Is lavender in the grete court alway, 

For she ne party th, neythir nyght ne day, 335 

Out of the hous of Cesar,, thus seyth Dante ; 

Whoso that goth, alwey sche mote not wante. 

This man to yow may wrongly ben acused, 

There as be ryght hym oughte ben excusid; 

Or ellis, sere, for that this man is nyce, 340 

He may translate a thyng in no malyce, 

But for he usyth bokis for to make, 

And takyth non hed of what matere he take; 

Therfore he wrot the Rose and ek Crisseyde 

Of innocence, and nyste what he seyde. 345 

Or hym was bodyn make thilke tweye 

Of sum persone, and durste it not withseye; 

For he hath wrete manye a bok er this. 

He ne hath not don so grevosly amys 

To translate that olde clerkis wryte, 350 

As thow that he of maleys wolde endyte 

Despit of love, and hadde hymself iwrouht. 

This schulde a ryghtwys lord han in his thought, 

And not ben lyk tyrauntis of Lumbardye 

That usyn wilfulhed and tyrannye; 355 

For he that kyng or lord is naturel, 

Hym oughte nat be tyraunt and crewel 

As is a fermour, to don the harm he can; 

He muste thynke, it is his lige man, 

And that hym owith, o verry duetee, 360 

Schewyn his peple pleyn benygnete, 

And wel to heryn here excusacyouns, 

And here compleyntys and petyciouns, 

In duewe tyme whan they schal it prof re; 

This is the sentens of the philysophre: 365 

A kyng to kepe hise lygis in justise, 

Withouten doute, that is his offise, 

And therto is a kyng ful depe isworn 

Ful manye an hunderede wyntyr here beforn, 

And for to kepe his lordys hir degre, 370 

As it is ryght and skylful that they be 

Enhaunsede and honoured, and most dere, 

For they ben half goddys in this world here ; 

885 she he', nygh. 837 not om. 359 must 867 which ouphtyn. 
372 and om. 



Thise ben the causes, and I shal not lye ; 

Envie ys lavendere of the court alway, 

For she ne parteth, neither nyght ne day, 

Out of the house of Cesar, thus seith Dante; 360 

Who so that gooth, algate she wol nat wante. 

And eke perauntere for this man ys nyce, 

He myghte doon yt, gessyng no malice; 

But for he useth thynges for to make, 

Hym rekketh noght of what matere he take; 365 

Or him was bodes siaken thilke tweye 

Of somme persone, and durste yt nat with-seye; 

Or him repenteth outrely of this, 

He ne hath nat doon so grevously amys 

To translaten that olde clerkes writen, 370 

As thogh that he of malice wolde enditen 

Despite of love, and had him-selfe yt wroght. 

This shoolde a ryghtwis lord have in his thoght, 

And nat be lyke tirauntez of Lumbardye, 

That han no reward but at tyrannye. 375 

For he that kynge or lord ys naturel, 

Hym oghte nat be tiraunt ne crewel 

As is a fermour, to doon the harme he kan. 

He moste thinke yt is his leege man, 

And is his tresour, and his gold in cofre. 380 

This is the sentence of the philosophre: 
A kyng to kepe hise leeges in justice, 
Withouten doute, that is his office ; 

Al wol he kepe hise lordes hire degree, 

As it ys ryght and skilful that they bee 385 

Enhaunced and honoured, and most dere, 

For they ben half goddys in this world here, 

363 myght. 364 But om. 866 Or Of. 371 As And. 376 ys in. 377 oght 


This schal he don, bothe to pore and ryche, 

Al be that her estat be nat alyche, 375 

And han of pore folk compassioun ; 

For lo, the gentyl kynde of the lyoun ! 

For whan a flye offendyth hym or bytith, 

He with his tayl awey the flye smytyth 

Al esyly; for, of his genterye, 380 

Hym deynyth nat to wreke hym on a flye, 

As doth a curre, or ellis anothir beste. 

In noble corage oughte ben areste, 

And weyen every thyng by equite, 

And evere han reward to his owen degre. 385 

For, sire, it is no maystrye for a lord 

To dampne a man withoute answere or word ; 

And for a lord that is wol foul to use. 

And if so be, he may hym nat ascuse, 

But axith mercy with a sorweful herte, 390 

And proferyth hym ryght in his bare scherte 

To been ryght at youre owene jugement, 

Than ought a God, by schort avisement, 

Considere his owene honour and his trespace. 

For sythe no cause of deth lyth in this cace, 3Q5 

Yow oughte to ben the lyghtere merciable. 

Letith youre yre and beth sumwhat tretable; 

The man hath servyd yow of his konnyng, 

And fortheryd youre lawe with his makyng. 

Whil he was yong he kepte youre estat ; 400 

I not where he be now a renagat, 

But wel I wot, with that he can endyte, 

He hath makid lewede folk to delyte 

To servyn yow in preysynge of youre name. 

He made the bok that highte the Hous of Fame, 405 

And ek the Deth of Blaunche the duchesse, 

And the Parlement of Foulis, as I gesse, 

And al the love of Palamon and Arcite 

Of Thebes, thow the storye is knowe lite ; 

And manye an ympne for your halydayis, 

That hightyn baladis, roundelys, vyrelayes ; 

And for to speke of othyr besynesse, 

He hath in prose translatid Boece, 

And of the Wrechede Engendrynge of Mankynde, 

374 and om. 384 euerych. 390 But om. 398 konnyg. 410 thour. 
411 and vyrelayis. 



Yit mote he doon bothe ryght to poore and ryche, 

Al be that hire estaat be nat yliche, 

And han of poore folke compassyoun. 390 

For, loo, the gentil kynde of the lyon ! 

For whan a flye offendith him or biteth, 

He with his tayle awey the flye smyteth 

Al esely, for of hys gentry e 

Hym deyneth not to wreke hym on a flye, 395 

As dooth a curre, or elles another best. 

In noble corage oughte ben arest, 

And weyen every thing by equytee, 

And ever have rewarde to his oweji degree. 

For, syr, yt is no maistrye for a lorde 400 

To dampne a man without answere of worde, 

And for a lorde that is ful foule to use. 

And it so be he may hym nat excuse, 

But asketh mercy with a dredeful herte, 

And profereth him ryght in his bare sherte 405 

To ben ryght at your owen jugement, 

Than oght a God, by short avysement, 

Consydre his owne honour and hys trespas. 

For syth no cause of dethe lyeth in this caas, 

Yow oghte to ben the lyghter merciable; 410 

Leteth youre ire, and beth sumwhat tretable ! 

The man hath served yow of his kunnyng, 

And furthred wel youre lawe in his makyng. 

Al be hit that he kan nat wel endite, 

Yet hath he made lewde folke delyte 415 

To serve yow, in preysinge of your name. 

He made the book that hight the Hous of Fame, 

And eke the deeth of Blaunche the Duchesse, 

And the Parlement of Foules, as I gesse, 

And al the love of Palamon and Arcite 420 

Of Thebes, thogh the storye ys knowen Ivte i 

And many an ympne for your haiydayes, 

That highten balades, roundels, virelayes. 

And for to speke of other holynesse, 

He hath in proce translated Boece, 425 

393 fle. 397 ought. 399 to unto. 


As man may in Pope Innocent ifynde; 415 

And made the Lyf also of Seynt Cecile. 

He made also, gon sithen a gret while, 

Orygenes upon the Maudeleyne; 

Hym oughte. now to have the lesse peyne. 

He hath mad manye a lay and maiiye a thyng; 420 

Now as ye ben a god and ek a kyng, 

I, youre Alceste, whilom Quene of Trace, 

I axe yow this man ryght of youre grace, 

That ye hym nevere hurte in al his lyve; 

And she schal swere to yow, and that as blyve, 425 

He schal no more agiltyn in this wyse; 

But he schal makyn, as ye wele devyse, 

Of wemen, trewe in lovynge al here lyve, 

Wher-so ye wele, of maydyn or of wyve ; 

And fortheryn yow, as meche as he mysseyde 430 

Or in the Rose or ellis in Crisseyde." 

The God of Love answerede hire thus anon: 

"Madame," quod he, "it is so longe agon 

That I yow knew so charytable and trewe, 

That nevere yit, sithe that the world was newe, 435 

To me ne fond I never non bet than the ; 

That if that I wele save my degre, 

I may ne wel not warne youre requeste. 

Al lyth in yow, doth with hym what yow leste, 

And al foryeve, w r ithoute lengere space, 440 

For who so yevyth a yifte, or doth a grace, 

Do it be-tyme, his thank is wel the more. 

And demyth ye what he shal don therfore. 

Go, thanke now my lady here," quod he. 

I ros, and doun I sette me on my kne, 445 

And seyde thus: "Madame, the God above 

Foryelde yow that ye the God of Love 

Han makyd me his wrethe to foryeve; 

And yeve me grace so longe for to leve 

That I may knowe sothly what ye be, 450 

That han me holpyn and put in swich degre. 

But trewely I wende, as in this cas, 

Naught have agilt, ne don to Love trespas. 

For why, a trewe man withoute drede, 

Hath nat to parte with a thevys dede, 455 

417 sithen is. 419 ouughte. 423 rygh. 436 betere. 442 the te. 451 put me. 




And maade the Lyfe also of Seynt Cecile. 

He made also, goon sithen a grete while, 

Origenes upon the Maudeleyne; 

Hym oughte now to have the lesse peyne. 

He hath maade many a lay and many a thinge. 430 

Now as ye be a God and eke a kynge, 

I, your Alceste, whilom quene of Trace, 

Y aske yow this man ryght of your grace, 

That ye him never hurte in al his lyve. 

And he shal sweren to yow, and that as blyve, 435 

He shal never more agilten in this wyse; 

But he shal maken, as ye wol devyse, 

Of wommen trewe in lovyng al hire lyfe, 

Wherso ye wol, of mayden or of wyfe, 

And forthren yow as muche as he mysseyde 440 

Or in the Rose, or elles in Creseyde." 

The God of Love answerede hire anoon, 

"Madame," quod he, "it is so long agoon 

That I yow knewe so charitable and trewe, 

That never yit, syn that the worlde was newe, 445 

To me ne founde y better noon than yee. 

If that I wolde save my degree, 

I may ne wol nat werne your requeste, 

Al lyeth in yow, dooth wyth hym as yow liste ; 

I al foryeve, withouten lenger space; 450 

For who so yeveth a yifte or dooth a grace, 

Do it by-tyme, his thank ys wel the more. 

And demeth ye, what he shal doo therfore. 

Goo thanke now my lady here," quod he. 

I roos, and doune I sette me on my knee, 455 

And seyde thus, "Madame, the God above 

Foryelde yow, that ye the god of love 

Han maked me his wrathe to foryive, 

And gyve me grace so long for to lyve, 

That I may knowe soothly what ye bee, ' 460 

That han me holpe and put in this degree. 

But trewely I wende, as in this cas, 

Naught have agilt, ne doon to Love trespas. 

For why, a trewe man, withouten drede, 

Hath nat to parten with a theves dede ; 465 

427 sithen ys. 485 as om. 437 he om. 447 I ye. 457 ye om. 459 gyve me om. 
461 me in. 462 trewly. 


Ne a trewe lovere oughte me nat blame, 

Thow that I speke a f als lovere sum schame ; 

They aughte rathere with me for to holde, 

For that I of Criseyde wrot or tolde, 

Or of the Rose, what so myn auctour mente, 460 

Algate^ God wot, it was myn entente 

To forthere trouthe in love and it cheryse, 

And to be war from falsenesse and from vice 

By swich ensaumple, this was my menynge." 

And sche answerde, "Lat be thyn arguynge, 465 

For Love ne wele nat countyrpletyd be 

In ryght ne wrong; and lerne this at me, 

Thow hast thy grace, and holde the ryght therto. 

Now wole I seyn, what penaunce thow schalt do 

For thy trespace, and undyrstonde it here ; 470 

Thow schalt, whil that thow levyst yer be yere 

The moste partye of thy lyve spende 

In makynge of a gloryous legende 

Of goode wemen, maydenys and wyves, 

That were trewe in lovynge al here lyvys ; 475 

And telle of false men that hem betrayen 

That al here lyf ne don nat but asayen 

How manye wemen they may don a schame. 

For in youre world that is now holdyn game ! 

And thow the lestyth nat a lovere be, 480 

Spek wel of love, this penaunce yeve I the; 

And to the God of Love I schal so preye 

That he schal charge hise servauntys, by ony weye, 

To fortheryn the, and wel thy labour quite. 

Go now thy wey, thy penaunce is but lyte." 485 

The God of Love gan smyle, and thanne he seyde, 

"Wostow," quod he, "wher this be wif or mayde 

Or queen or countesse, or of what degre 

That hath so lytfL penaunce yevyn the, 

That hast deservyd sorere for to smerte? 490 

But pete rennyth sone in gentil herte; 

That mayst thow sen, sche kytheth what sche is." 

And I answerde, "Nay, sere, so have I blys, 

No more but that I se wel sche is good." 

456 oughte may. 469 schat. 471 that om. 472 lyf. 


Ne a trewe lover oghte me not to blame, 

Thogh that I spake a fals lovere som shame. 

They oghte rather with me for to holde 

For that I of Creseyde wroot or tolde, 

Or of the Rose, what so myn auctour mente. 470 

Algate, God woot, yt was myn entente 

To forthren trouthe in love, and yt cheryce, 

And to ben war fro falsnesse and fro vice 

By swiche ensample, this was my menynge." 

And she answerde, "Lat be thyn arguynge, 475 

For Love ne wol nat countrepleted be 

In ryght ne wrong; and lerne that of me; 

Thow hast thy grace, and holde the ryght therto. 

Now wol I seyn what penance thou shalt do 

For thy trespas, and understonde yt here, 480 

Thow shalt, while that thou lyvest yere by yere, 

The most partye of thy tyme spende 

In makyng of a glorious legende 

Of goode wymmen, maydenes and wyves, 

That weren trew in lovyng al hire lyves, 485 

And telle of false men that hem bytraien, 

That al hir lyfe ne do nat but assayen 

How many women they may doon a shame; 

For in youre worlde that is now holde a game ! 

And thogh the lyke nat a lovere bee, 490 

Speke wel of love ; this penance yive I the. 

And to the God of Love I shal so preye, 

That he shal charge his servantez, by any weye, 

To forthren thee, and wel thy labour quyte. 

Goo now thy weye, this penaunce ys but lyte; 4Q5 

And whan this book ys maade, yive it the quene 

On my byhalfe, at Eltham or at Sheene." 

The God of Love gan smyle, and than he sayde, 

"Wostow," quod he, "wher this be wyf or mayde, 

Or queene or countesse, or of what degre 500 

That hath so lytel penance yiven thee 

That hast deserved sorere for to smerte ? 

But pite renneth soone in gentil herte; 

That maistow seen, she kytheth what she ys." 

And I answered, "Nay, sire, so have I blys, 505 

Na moore, but that I see wel she is good." 

46 ojrht 480 and om. 484 good. 487 line om. 488 they that. 
602-3 MS. defective. 


"That is a trewe tale, by myn hod/' 495 

Quod Love, "and that thow knowist wel, parde. 

Yif it be so that thow avise the ! 

Hast thow nat in a bok, lyth in thy cheste, 

The grete goodnesse of the queene Alceste, 

That turnede was into a dayesye; 500 

Sche that for hire husbonde ches to deye 

And ek to gon to helle, rathere than he ; 

And Ercules rescued hire, parde, 

And broughte hyre out of helle ageyn to blys?" 

And I answerde agen, and seyde, "Yis, 505 

Now knowe I hire, and is this goode Alceste, 

The dayeseye, and myn owene hertes reste? 

Now fele I wel the goodnesse of this wif, 

That bothe aftyr hire deth and ek hire lyf 

Hire grete bounte doubelyth hire renoun. 510 

Wel hath sche quit me myn affeccioun 

That I have to hire flour, the dayesye; 

No wondyr is, thow Jove hire stellefye, 

As tellyth Agaton^ for hyre goodnesse ! 

Hire white coroun beryth of it witnesse; 515 

For also manye vertuys hath sche 

As smale flourys in hyre coroun be. 

Of remembrauns of hire, and in honour, 

Cibella made the dayesye and the flour 

Icoroned al with whit, as men may se; 520 

And Mars yaf to hire corone red, parde, 

In stede of rubeis, set among the white." 

Therwith this queene wex red for schame a lyte, 
Whan sche was preysid so in hire presence. 

Thanne seyde Love, "A ful gret neglygence 525 

Was it to the, to write onstedefastnesse 
Of women, sithe thow knowist here goodnesse 
By pref, and ek by storyis here byforn. 
Let be the chaf, and writ wel of the corn. 
Why noldist thow han writyn of Alceste, 530 

And latyn Criseide ben aslepe, and reste ? 
For of Alceste schulde thy wrytynge be, 
Syn that thow wist that calandier is she 

Of goodnesse^ for sche taughte of fyn lovynge, 
And namely, of wifhod the lyvynge, 535 

496 Qod. .507 herte is. 513 stellesye. 520 ma. 531 rest. 



"That is a trewe tale, by myn hood," 

Quod Love, "and that thou knowest wel, pardee, 

If yt be so that thou avise the ! 

Hastow nat in a book, lyth in thy cheste, 510 

The grete goodnesse of the quene Alceste, 

That turned was into a daysye ? 

She that for hire housbonde chees to dye, 

And eke to goon to helle, rather than he, 

And Ercules rescowed hire, parde, 515 

And broght hir out of helle agayne to blys ?" 

And I answerd ageyn, and sayde, "Yis, 

Now knowe I hire; and is this good Alceste, 

The daysie, and myn owene hertes reste? 

Now fele I weel the goodnesse of this wyf ; 520 

That both aftir hir deth and in hir lyf 

Hir grete bounte doubleth hire renoun. 

Wei hath she quyt me myn affeccioun 

That I have to hire flour, the daysye ! 

No wonder ys thogh Jove hire stellyfye, 525 

As telleth Agaton, for hire goodenesse. 

Hire white corowne berith of hyt witnesse; 

For also many vertues hadde shee 

As smale florouns in hire corowne bee. 

In remembraunce of hire and in honoure 530 

Cibella maade the daysye and the floure 

Ycrowned al with white, as men may see; 

And Mars yaf to hire corowne reede, pardee, 

In stede of rubyes, sette among the white." 

Therwith this queene wex reed for shame a lyte, 535 

Whan she was preysed so in hire presence. 

Thanne seyde Love, "A ful grete necligence 

Was yt to the, that ylke tyme thou made 

'Hyd, Absolon thy tresses' in balade, 

That thou forgate hire in thi songe to sette, 540 

Syn that thou art so gretly in hire dette, 

And wost so wel that kalender ys shee 

To any woman that wol lover bee ; 

For she taught al the crafte of fyne lovyng, 

And namely of wyfhode the lyvyng, 545 

508 that om 511 gret. 542 so om 


And alle the boundys that sche aughte kepe. 

Thy lityl wit was thilke tyme aslepe. 

But now I charge the, upon thy lyf, 

That in thy legende thow make of this wif, 

Whan thow hast othere smale mad byf ore ; 540 

And fare now wel^ I charge the no more. 

At Cliopatre I wele that thow begynne, 

And so forth; and my love so shaltow wynne." 

And with that word of slep I gan a-wake, 
And ryght thus on my Legende gan I make. 

Explicit prohemium. 

543 shalt tow. 


And al the boundes that she oghte kepe, 

Thy litel witte was thilke tyme a-slepe ; 

But now I charge the, upon thy lyfe 

That in thy legende thou make of thys wyfe 

Whan thou hast other smale ymaade before. ,550 

And fare now wel, I charge the namore. 

But er I goo, thus muche I wol the telle ; 

Ne shal no trewe lover come in helle. 

Thise other ladies sittynge here arowe 

Ben in thy balade, yf thou kanst hem knowe; 555 

And in thy bookes alle thou shalt hem fynde. 

Have hem in thy legende now al in mynde ; 

I mene of hem that ben in thy knowyng, 

For here ben twenty thousande moo sittyng 

Thanne thou knowest, that ben good wommen alle, 560 

And trewe of love for oght that may byfalle. 

Make the metres of hem as the lest, 

I mot goon home, the sonne draweth west, 

To paradys with al thise companye, 

And serve alwey the fresshe daysye ! 565 

At Cleopatre I wole that thou begynne, 

And so forthe, and my love so shal thou wynne. 

For lat see now, what man that lover be 

Wol doon so stronge a peyne for love as she? 

I wot wel that thou maist nat al yt ryme, 570 

That swiche lovers diden in hire tyme; 

It were to long to reden and to here. 

Sufficeth me thou make in this manere, 

That thou reherce of al hir lyfe the grete, 

After thise olde auctours lysten for to trete; 575 

For whoso shal so many a storye telle, 

Sey shortly, or he shal to longe dwelle." 

And with that worde my bokes gan I take, 
And ryght thus on my Legende gan I make. 

555 thy my. 560 that ben om. 561 may my 565 fressh. 571 swicb 
dide 573 suffich. 


Incipit legenda Cleopatrie regine. 

Afftyr the deth of Tholome the kyng, 580 

That al Egipt hadde in his governyng, 

Regnede his queene Cleopataras; 

Tyl on a tyme befel there swich a cas, 

That out of Rome was sent a senatour, 

For to conqueryn regnys and honour 585 

Unto the Toun of Rome as was usaunce, 

To han the world unto hyre obeysaunce ; 

And soth to seyne, Antonius was his name. 

So nl it, as fortune hym aughte a schame 

Whan he was fallyn in prosperite, 590 

Rebel unto the Toun of Rome is he, 

And ovyral this, the sustyr of Cesar 

He lafte hire falsly, or that sche was war, 

And wolde algates han a nothir wif, 

For which he tok with Rome and Cesar stryf. 595 

Natheles, for sothe, this ilke senatour 

Was a ful worthy gentyl werriour, 

And of his deth it was ful gret damage. 

But love hadde brought this man in swich a rage, 

And hym so narwe boundyn in his las, 600 

Al for the love of Cleopataras, 

That al the world he sette at no value. 

Hym thoughte there nas to hym nothyng so dewe 

As Cleopatras for to love and serve. 

Hym roughte nat in armys for to sterve 605 

In the diffens of hyre, and of hire ryght. 

This noble queene ek lovede so this knyght, 

Thourgh his desert, and for his chyvalrye, 

As certeynly, but if that bokys lye, 

582 queen. 586 usage. 593 falsly falle. 594 algate, 003 thoute. 608 thour. 


He was of persone and of gentillesse, 610 

And of discrecioun and of hardynesse, 

Worth! to ony wyght that lyvyn may; 

And sche was fayr as is the rose in May. 

And for to make shortly is the beste; 

Sche wax his wif, and hadde hym as hire leste. 615 

The weddynge and the feste to devyse, 
To me that have ytake swich empryse 
Of so manye a story for to make, 
It were to longe, lest that I schulde slake 
Of thyng that beryth more effect and charge. 620 

For men may overlade a schip or barge 
And forthy, to thefeect thanne wele I skyppe, 
And al the remenaunt I wele lete slippe. 

Octovyan, that wod was of this dede, 

Schop hym an ost on Antony e to lede, 625 

Al utyrly for his destruccioun, 
With stoute Romeynys, crewel as lyoun; 
To schepe they wente, and thus I lat hem sayle. 

Antonius was war, and wele nat fayle 

To metyn with these Romeynys, if he may; 630 

Tok eek his red, and bothe, upon a day, 
Hys wif and he, and al his ost forth wente, 
To shepe anon, no lengere they ne stente ; 
And in the se it happede hem to mete- 
Up goth the trompe ! and for to schoute and schete, 635 
And peynede hem to sette on with the sunne ; 
With grysely soun out goth the grete gonne, 
And heterly they hurtelyn al atonys. 
From the top doun comyth the grete stonys ; 
In goth the grapenel so ful of crokis, 640 

Among the ropis rennyth the scherynge hokys ; 
In with the polax presith he and he ; 
Byhyndyn the mast begynnyth he to fle ; 
And out a-geyn and dryvyth hym overborde; 
682 wentyn. 642 he & sche. 


He styngith hym upon his sperys orde; 645 

He rent the seyl with hokys lyk a sithe; 

He bryngith the cuppe and biddyth hem to be blythe ; 

He pouryth pesyn up on the hachis sledere ; 

With pottis ful of lym they gon togedere. 

And thus the longe day togedere they spende, 650 

Tyl at the laste, as every thyng hath ende, 

Antonye is schent, and put hym to the flyght; 

And al his folk to-go, that best go myght. 

Fleth ek the queen, with al hire porpere sayl, 

For strokys whiche that wente as thikke as hayl; 655 

No wondyr was sche myghte it nat endure. 

And whan that Antonye saw that aventure, 
"Alias/' quod he, "the day that I was born ! 
My worshepe in this day thus have I lorn !" 
And for dispeyr out of his wit he sterte, 660 

And rof hymself anon thourgh out the herte, 
Or that he ferthere wente out of the place. 
His wif, that coude of Cesar have no grace, 
To Egipt is fled, for dred and for destresse. 
But herkenyth, ye that spekyn of kyndenesse, 665 

Ye men that falsely swere manye an oth, 
That ye wele deye, if that youre love be wroth, 
Here may ye sen of wemen which a trouthe ! 
This woful Cleopatre hath mad swich routhe 
That ther is tunge non that may it telle ; 670 

But on the morwe sche wolde no lengere dwelle, 
But made hire subtyl werkemen make a schryne 
Of alle the rubyis and the stonys fyne 
In al Egypte, that sche coude espie; 

And putte ful the schryne of spicerye, 675 

And let the cors enbaumme, and forth sche fette 
This dede cors, and in the schryne it schette, 
And next the schryne a pet thanne doth sche grave, 
And alle the serpentys that sche myghte have, 

651 hat. 661 thour. 664 is sche. 674 Egypt. 


Sche putte hem in that grave; and thus sche seyde: 680 

"Now, love, to whom myn sorweful herte obeyede 

So ferforthly, that from that blisful our 

That I yow swor to ben al frely your, 

I mene yow, Antonius, my knyght ! 

That nevere wakynge in the day or nyght 685 

Ye nere out of myn hertis remembraunce, 

For wel or wo, for carole or for daunce ; 

And in myn self this covenaunt made I tho, 

For ryght swich as ye feldyn, wel or wo, 

As fer forth as it in my power lay 690 

Unreprovable onto my wyfhod ay, 

The same wolde I fele, lyf or deth, 

And thilke covenant, whil me lastith breth, 

I wele fulfille, and that schal ben wel sene; 

Was nevere onto hire love a trewere quene." 695 

And with that word, nakyd, with ful good herte, 

Among the serpentis in the pit sche styrte, 

And there sche ches to havyn hire buryinge. 

Anon the nadderys gonne hire for to stynge, 

And sche hire deth receyvyth with good cheere, 700 

For love of Antonye that was hire so dere. 

And this is storyal soth, it is no fable, 
Now, or I fynde a man thus trewe and stable, 
And wele for love his deth so frely take, 
I preye God let oure hedys nevere ake. Amen. 705 

Explicit Cliopatra. 1 

1 The Legends follow of Thisbe, Dido, Hypsipyle and Medea, Ariadne, Philo 
mela, Phyllis, and Hypermnestra. 
685 nygh. 689 rygh. 693 comenant. 


(I. Seven-line Stanzas, 1) 

The longe nyghtis whan every creature 

Shuld have theyr rest in somwhat, as be kynde, 
Or ellis ne may theyr lif nought longe endure, 
It fallith most into my wooful mynde 
How I so fer have brought my self behynde, 
That, sauf the deth, ther may nothyng me lisse, 
So disespaired I am from alle blisse. 

(I. 2) 

This same thought me lastith til the morow, 

And from the morow furth til it be eve; 
There nedith me no care for to borow, 10 

For both I have gode leyser and goode leve. 
Ther is no wight that wil my wo bireve 
To wepe inough, and wailen al my fill; 
The sore spark of peyne now doth me spill. 

(3) [Terza Rima, 1] 

The sore spark of peyne now doth me spill, 

This love that hath me set in suche a place 
That my desire never wil fulfill, 

For neither pite, mercy, neyther grace 
Can I nat fynde ; and yit my sorowful hert 

For to be dede, I can it nat arace. 
The more I love, the more she doth me smert, 

Thurgh whiche I se without remedye 
That from the dethe I may in no wise astert. 

2 asom. 7 dispaired: al. 17 neuer wil. 22 I se om. 


(4) [II. Tersa Rima, 2] 

Now sothly what she hight, I wil reherce: 
Hir name is Bounte set in Wommanhede, 25 

Sadnesse in Yowth, and Beaute Prideles, 
And Plesaunce under Governaunce and Drede. 

Hir surname is eke Faire Rowtheles 
The Wise iknyt unto Goode Aventure, 

That, for I love hir, she sleeth me giltles. 30 

Hir love I best, and shal, while I may dure, 

Better than my self, an hundred thousand dele, 
Than al this worldis riches or creature. 

Now hath nat Love me bestowed wele 
To love, there I never shal have part? 35 

Elas, right thus is turned me the whele ! 
Thus am I slayn with Loves fury dart ; 

I can but love hir best, my swete foo, 
Love hath me taught nomore of his art 

But serve alwey, and stynte for no woo. 40 

(5) [III. Ten-line Stanzas, 1] 

In my trewe careful hert there is 
So moche woo, and eek so litel blisse, 

That woo is me that ever I was bore. 
For alle thyng whiche I desire, I mysse, 
And al that ever I wold nat, Iwisse, 45 

That fynd I redy to me evermore; 
And of al this I not to whom me pleyne 

For she that myghte me out of this bryng 
Ne recchith nought, whether I wepe or synge, 

So litel rowth hath she upon my peyne. 50 


(6) (III. 2) 

Elas, whan slepyng tyme is, lo, than I wake ; 
Whan I shuld daunce, for feere, lo, than I qwake, 

40 stynt. 42 eek om. 44 al. 48 myght. 


This hevy liff I leede, loo, for yowre sake, 

Though ye therof in no wise heede take, 

Myn hertis lady, and hole my lives qwene, 55 

For trewly durst I sey, and that I fele, 

Me semeth that your sweete hert of steele 
Is whetted now ayeines me to kene. 

(7) (III. 3) 

My dere hert, and best be-loved foo, 

Why likith yow to do me al this woo ? 60 

What have I don that grevith yow, or saide, 
But for I serve and love yow, and no mo, 
And while I live I wil ever do soo ? 

And therfor, sweete, me beth nat evil apayed; 
For so goode and so faire as ye be, 65 

It were right grete wonder but ye had 

Of al servauntis, both of goode and bad, 
And lest worthy of al hem, I am he. 

(8) (III. 4) 

But nevertheles, my righte lady swete, 

Though that I be unkonnyng and unmeete 70 

To serve as I best kowde ay yowre hienesse, 
Yit is ther non fayner, that wolde I heete, 
Than I to do youre ease, or ellis beete 

What so I wist, that were to your distresse. 
And had I myght as goode as I have wil, 75 

Than shuld ye feele where it were so, or non; 

For in this world than livyng is ther non, 
That fayner wolde youre hertis wil fulfil. 

(9) (HI. 5) 

For both I love, and eke drede yow so sore, 

And algatis mote, and have yow don ful yoore, 80 

53, 56 missing. 58 ayens. 69 right. 71 best om. 74 distresse hyenesse. 


That bettir loved is non, ne never shal. 
And yit I wold besechen you of nomore 
But levith wele, and beth nat wroth therfore, 

And lete me serve yow forth,, lo, this is al. 
For I am nat so hardy, ne so woode, 85 

For to desire that ye shuld love me, 

For wele I wote, elas, that wil nat be, 
I am so litel worthy, and ye so goode. 

(10) (III. 6) 

For ye be oon the worthyest on lyve, 

And I the most unlikly for to thryve. 90 

Yit, for al this, witeth ye right wele, 
That ye ne shul me from youre service dryve, 
That I ne wil ay with al my wittes fyve, 

Serve yow triewly what wo so that I fele, 
For I am sette on yow in suche manere, 95 

That though ye never wil upon me rewe, 

I must yow love, and bien ever als triew, 
As any man can, or may, on live here. 

(11) (III. 7) 

But the more that I love yow, goodly free, 

The lasse fynd I that ye loven me; 100 

Elas, whan shal that harde witte amend? 
Where is now al your wommanly pite, 
Youre gentilnesse, and your debonarite? 

Wil ye nothyng therof upon me spende? 
And so hoole, swete, as I am yowres al, 105 

And so grete wil as I have yow to serve, 

Now certis, and ye lete me thus sterve, 
Yet have ye wonne theron but a smal. 

88 lovith. 98 here om. 101 hard. 108 ye om. 


(12) (III. 8) 

For, at my knowyng, I do nat why ; 

And this I wil beseche yow hertily, 110 

That there ever ye finde, whiles ye live, 
A triewer servaunt to yow than am I, 
Loveth [hym] thanne, and sle me hardily, 

And [I] my deth to yow wil al forgyve. 
And if ye fynde no trewer [goodly free] 115 

Wil ye suffre than that I thus spil, 

And for no maner gilt but my goode wil ? 
Als goode were thanne untriewe as triewe to be. 

(13) (Unique final stanza, III. 9) 

But I, my lif and deth,, to yow obey, 

And with right buxum hert holy I prey, 120 

As youre most plesure is, so doth by me ; 
For wele lever is me liken yow and dye, 
Than for to any thyng or thynk or say 

That yow myght offenden, in any tyme, 
And therfor, swete, rewe on my peynes smert, 

And of your grace grauntith me som drope, 

For ellis may me last no blisse ne hope, 
Ne dwelle withyn my trouble careful hert. 

Explicit Pyte. 

115 trewer so verily. 118 to be triewly. 121 is om. 


Lo my lordis and ladyes Here folowyng may ye see the 
maner of the lovyng bytwene Arcite of Thebes and Anelida 
the faire Quene of Hermony which with his feyned chere 
doublenesse and flateryng discerned her withouten cause she 
beyng than oon of the trewest gentilwomen that bere lyf 
compleyneth her I beseche you. 

Thow fierse god of armes, Mars the rede, 

That in the frosty contrey called Trace, 

Within thi gresly temple f ul of drede 

Honured art, as patroun of that place, 

With thi Bellona, Pallas, ful of grace, 5 

Be present, and my song contynue and guy; 

At my begynnyng thus to the I cry. 

For hit ful depe is sonken in my mynd 

With pitous herte in Englissh for to endite 

This olde story in Latyne which I fynde, 10 

Of quene Anelyda and fals Arcite, 

That eelde, which that all can frete and bite, 

As hit hath froten many a noble story, 

Hath negh devoured oute of my memory. 

Be favourable eke, thow Polymea, 15 

On Parnaso that with thi sustren glade 

By Ellicon, noght fer frome Cirea, 

Syngest with voice memorial in the shade, 

Undir the laurier which that may not fade; 

And do that I my ship to haven wynne. 20 

First folowe I Stace, and aftir that Corynne. 

Whan Theseus, with werres longe and grete, 
The aspre folke of Cithe had overcome, 
With laurer corouned, in his chare gold-bete, 
I flers. 17 nogh. 


Home to his cuntre-houses is ecome, 
For which the people, blisfull hole and some, 
So crydon that unto the sterres it wente, 
And him to honuren, diden all her entente. 

Beforne this duk, in signe of hie victorye, 
The trumpes came, and in his baner large 
The ymage of Mars ; and tokenyng of his glorie, 
Men mighten seen of tresoure many a charge, 
Many bright helme, and many spere and targe, 
Many a fressh knyght, and blisful route, 
On hors and fote, in all the felde aboute. 

Ypolita his wyf, the hardy quene 

Of Cithea, that he conquered had, 

With Emelye, her yonge sustir shene, 

Faire in a chaier of gold he with him ladde, 

That all the ground aboute the chare she sprad 40 

With brightnesse of the beaute in her face, 

Fulfilled of largesse and of alle grace. 

With his tryumphe, of lawrier corouned thus, 

In all the floure of Fortunes yevyng 

Lete I this noble prince, this Theseus, 45 

Towardes Attenes in his wey ridyng; 

And fonde I woll in shortly for to bryng 

The slye wey of that I gan to write, 

Of quene Anelida and fals Arcyte. 

Mars, which that thurgh his furious cours of yre, 50 

The olde wrath of Juno to fulfille, 
Hath sette the peoplis hertis both on fyre 
Of Thebes and Grece, yche othir for to kylle, 
With blody speris ne rested never stille 
But throng, now here, now there, amongis hem both, 55 
Tyll everich othir slough, so were thei wroth. 
37 conquerd. 38 yong. 41 With the. 48 slye sleght. 49 Of the. 50 that om 


For whan Amphyorax and Tydius, 

Ypomedon, Parthonopee also 

Weren dede, and sleyn proude Campaneus, 

And whan the wrechid Thebans, bretheren two, 60 

Were slayne; and kyng Adrastus home ego, 

So desolate stode Thebes and so bare, 

That no wight coude remedy of his fare. 

And whan that olde Creon gan espie 

How that the blode riall was brought adoun, 65 

He held that cite by his thyrannye, 

And did the gentils of that regyoune 

To ben his frend, and wonen in the toune; 

So what for love of him, and what for awe, 

The noble folke were to the toune edrawe. 70 

Amonges all thies, Anelida, the quene 

Of Ermony was in that toune duellyng, 

That feirer was than is the sonne shene 

Thurghoute the world so gan her name spryng 

That her to seen had every wight likyng. 75 

For, as of trouth, is there non her liche 

Of all the wymen in this worlde riche. 

Yong was this quene, of twenty yere of elde, 

Of myddell stature, and of suche fairenesse 

That Nature had grete j oy her to behelde ; 80 

And for to speken of her stedfastnes, 

She passed hath Penelope and Lucresse, 

And shortly if she shall be comprehendid, 

In her ne myghte nothing be amendid. 

This Theban knyght eke, Arcite soth to seyn, 85 

Was yong, and therewithall a lusty knyght, 
But he was double in love, and nothing pleyne, 

57 Tedius. 63 coude no. 65 edoun. 66 heled. 68 wonnen. 78 of om. 
80 beholde. 84 myght. 85 Arcite om. ; the soth. 


And subtill in that crafte over any wight, 

And with his connyng wan that lady bright. 

So ferforth, loo, he gan her trouth ensure, 90 

That she him trustith above eche creature. 

What shuld I seyn? she lovid Arcyte so, 

That whan that he was absent any throwe, 

Anon her thought hir herte brast on two, 

For in her sight to her he bare him lowe, 95 

So that she wende have all his hert eknowe, 

But he was fals, hit nas but feyned chere, 

All nedith not to men suche crafte to lere. 

But natheles, ful mychell besynesse 

Had he, or that he myght his lady wynne; 100 

And swore he wolde deye for distresse, 

Or from his witte he seyde he wolde twynne. 

Alas, the while ! for hit was routh and synne, 

That she upon his sorowis wolde rewe. 

But nothing thenkith the fals as doth the trewe. 105 

Hir fredome fonde Arcyte in suche maner 

That all was his that she hath, moche or lyte. 

Ne to no creature made she chere, 

Forther than that hit liked to Arcyte ; 

Ther nas no lacke with whiche he myght her wite, 1 1 

Sheo was so ferforthe gyven him to plese, 

That all that liked him, hit did her ese. 

There nas to hir no maner lettre sent 

That towchid love, from anye maner wyght 

That she ne shewid it him or it was brent, 1 1 5 

So pleyne she was, and did hir fulle might 

That she nil hyden nothing frome hir knyght, 

Lest he of eny untrouthe hir upbreyde, 

Withouten bode his heste sheo obeyde. 

89 wan what. 94 hert. 101 dey. 102 he seyde om. 104 wolden. 
109 to om. 116 ful. 118 upbroyde. 119 cleyde (?). 


And eke he made him jalowse over hir, 120 

That what that any man had to hir seyde, 

Anoon he wolde preyen her to swere 

What was that worde, or maken him yvel apayde, 

Thanne wende sheo oute of her wyt have brayed, 

But all this nas but slight and flaterie, 125 

Withouten love, of feyned jalowsye. 

And al this toke sheo so debonayrely, 

That al his wille, hir thought hit skilful thing; 

And ever the lenger sheo lovid him tendrely, 

And did him honour, as he were a kynge. 130 

Hir hart was to him weddid with a ringe ; 

So ferforthe upon trowthe is hir entente 

That where he goothe hir herte with him wente. 

When sheo shall ete, on him is al hir thought, 

That wele unnethe of mete tooke she keepe; 135 

And what that sheo was to hir reste ebrought, 

On him sheo thought alwey till that sheo slepe ; 

Whan he was absent, prevely sheo weepe. 

Thus lyvethe fayere Anelyda the queene 

For fals Arcyte, that did hir al this tene. 140 

This fals Arcite, of his nuwefangulnesse, 

For sheo to him so lovely was and trewe, 

Tooke lasse deyntee of hir stedfastnesse, 

And sawe anothere ladye, proude and nuwe, 

And ryght anoon he cladde him in her huwe, 1 45 

Woot I nowght whethir in white, rede, or grene, 

And falsed fayr Anelide the qwene. 

But natheles, gret wondre was it noone 

Thawgh he were fals, for it is kynde of mane, 

Sithe Lamek was, that is so longe agoone, 150 

128 hit hir. 130 And An. 131 weddi. 138 his hert. 187 that om. 
140 al this that. 147 alshed that. 150 lanek. 


To been in love als fals as ever he cane; 
He was the firste fadre that begane 
To loven too, and liven in bygamye ; 
And he founde tentis firste, but yf men lye. 

This fals Arcyte, sumwhat moste he feyne, 155 

Whane he was fals, to cover his traitourye, 

Right as an hors that can boothe byte and pleyne, 

For he bare hir on honde of trecherye, 

And swore he coude hir dowbilnesse espie, 

And all was falsnesse, that sheo to him mente; 160 

Thus swore this theoff, and forthe his weye he wente. 

Ellas, what herte myght enduren it, 

For routhe and woo hir sorow for to tell, 

Or what man hath the connyng or the witte, 

Or what man myght within the chambre dwelle, 165 

Yf I to him rehersin shoulde the helle, 

Which sufferith faire Anelyda the Quene 

For fals Arcyte, that did her all this teene? 

Sheo weopethe, waylethe, swoonethe pytously, 

To grounde sheo fallethe, dede as any stoone, 170 

Al craumpisshed hir lymmes crockedly. 

Sheo spekithe as hir witte were all agoone, 

Other coloure thanne asshen hath sheo noone, 

Noon othir worde spekithe sheo, muche or lyte, 

But "mercy, cruell herte myn, Arcyte!" 175 

And thus endurith, til sheo was soo mate 

That sheo nathe foot on whiche sheo may sustene, 

But forthe langwissing ever in this estate, 

On which Arcyte hath rowthe noon ne teene; 

His herte was ellis where, nuwe and grene, 180 

That on hir woo nought deynid him to thinke, 

Him reccheth nought whether sheo fleete or synke. 

152 that euer. 156 thratourye. 162 hart; endure. 174 luytle. 175 harte. 
177 foot om. 178 ever om. 182 swynke. 


His nuwe ladye holdithe him so narowe 

Up by the brydell, at the staves ende, 

That every worde he drad hit as an arowe; 185 

Hir daunger made him boothe bowe and beende, 

And as hir lyste, made him tourne and wende ; 

For sheo ne graunted him in hir lyvynge 

No grace, whi that he hathe luste to synge; 

But drofe him forthe, unnethe list hir knowe 1QO 

That he was sarvant unto hir ladishippe, 

But leste that he were proude, sheo held him lowe ; 

Thus servethe he, withouten fee or shipe, 

Sheo sent him nowe to lande and nowe to shipe; 

And for sheo gave him daungere al his fille 195 

Therefore sheo had him at hir owne wille. 

Ensaumple of this, yee thrifty women all, 

Taketh here Anelida and fals Arcyte; 

That for hir list him dere herte calle, 

And was soo meke, therefore he lovd hir luyte; 200 

The kynde of mannes herte is to delighte 

In thing that straunge is, alsoo God me save ! 

For what he may not gete, that wolde he have. 

Nowe tourne we to Anelyda ageyne, 

Which peynithe day by day in languisshing; 205 

But whane sheo sawe that hir gate no gayne, 

Uppon a day full soroufull wepynge, 

Sheo caste hir for to make a compleyning, 

And of hir owne honde sheo gane hit wryte, 

And sent hit to hir Theban knyght, Arcyte. 210 

The compleynte of Anelida the Quene of Hermonye upon 
Arcyte borne of the blode riall of Thebes for his Doublenesse. 

So thirllethe with the poynt of rememberaunce 
The swerde of sorowe, whette with fals plesaunce, 

IS5hitom. 189 that om.; noo luste. 193 mete or shepe. 198 here of ;falsom. 
199 That And. 201 delight. 209 wreyte. 210 dann Arcyte. 


Myn herte, bare of blisse and blak of huwe, 

That tumid is in quakynge all my daunce, 

My suretee in awhaaped countenaunce, 215 

Sithe it avay lithe nowght for to be trewe ; 

For whoso trewest is, it shall hir rewe, 

That servithe love and dothe hir observaunce 

Alday till oon, and chaungethe for no newe. 

I wot myselfe als welle als any wight, 220 

For I lovid oon with all myn herte and might 

More than myselfe, an hunderithe thousand sithe, 

And callid him myn hertes lyff, my knight, 

And was al his als f er as it was right ; 

When he was glad thane was I evere blythe, 225 

And his disese was to me dethe als swythe ; 

And he ageyne his trouthe me had plight 

For evermore, his ladye me to kythe. 

Nowe is he fals, ellas ! and causelesse, 

And of my woo he is so rewthelesse, 230 

That with oon worde him liste not oonys deyne 

To brynge ageyne my sorowfull hert in pese, 

For he is kaute up in another lese ; 

Right as him liste, he laughethe at my peyne, 

And I ne can myne herte nought restreyne 235 

For to love him, alweye never the lesse; 

And of all this I note to whome me pleyne. 

And shall I pleyne, ellas, that harde stounde ! 

Unto my foo that gave myn herte a wounde, 

And yette desirithe that myne harome be more ? 240 

Nay, certes, for ther shall I never founde; 

Noon othir helpethe my scores for to sounde, 

My destenye hathe shapen it full yore. 

213 hart; hues. 219 and om. 225 klythe. 226 For his desire. 
227 trough t hathe me. 233 anether. 241 for certes ther; be founde. 


I wolle noon other medecyne ne lore, 

I wolle ben ay there I was oones bounde ; 245 

That I have seyde, beo seyde for evermore. 

Ellas, wher is becomen your gentilnesse, 

Youre wordes full of plesaunce and humblesse, 

Youre observaunces, and so lowe manere, 

Youre awaytinges and youre besynesse 250 

Uppon me, that ye callid your mastresse, 

Youre soverayne ladye of this worlde here? 

Ellas, and is there neyther worde ne cheere 

Yee vouchensaff uppon myn hevinesse? 

Ellas, youre love, I bie it all to dere ! 255 

Nowe certes, swete, thaughe that yee 

Thus causelesse the cause be 

Of my dedely adversitee, 

Your manly raysoun aught it to respite 

To slee your frende, and namlie me, 260 

That never yitte in noo degree 

Offendid yowe, als wissely he 

That al wot, oute of woo my sowle quite ! 

But for I was so pleyne, Arcyte, 

In all my werkes, much and lyte, 265 

And so besye yowe to delyte 

Myn honour sauf meke and kynde and free, 

Therfore ye putte on me this wyte, 

And als ye recche not a myte, 

Thaughe that the swerde of sorowe byte 270 

My woofull herte, thorowe your creweltee. 

My swete f oo, whye doo yee soo ? for shame ! 

And thenken yee, that fertherid be your name 

To love a newe, and be untrewe ? nay ! 

And putte yowe in sclaundre nowe and blame 275 

246 syde(2). 253 Ellas om.; there nowe. 259 for to. 289 myprht. 271 harte. 
272 foo for. 


For to do me adversite and grame, 

That love yowe moste, God, well thou woste, alwaye? 

Yitt come agayne, and yit be playne some daye, 

And than shall this that nowe is mis be game, 

And al forgyve, while that here live I maye. 280 

Loo, herte myne ! al this is for to seyne, 

As whethir shall I pray or elles pleyne? 

Which is the wey to do yowe to be trewe ? 

For outher mote I have yow in my cheyne, 

Or withe the dethe yee mutte departe us tweyne, 285 

Ther lithe noon othir meene weyes nuwe; 

For God so wissly of my soule ruwe, 

As verraylye yee slee me with the peyne, 

That may yee see unfeynid on myn huwe. 

For thus ferforth have I my deth ysoghte, 290 

Myselfe I morder with my pryve thoghte, 

For sorou and routh of youre unkyndenes ; 

I wepe, I wake, I f aste, all helpeth noghte ; 

I weyve joy that is to speke of oghte; 

I voyde companye, I flee gladdenes, 295 

Who may avaunte her bet of hevynes 

Then I ? and to this plite have ye me broghte, 

Withoute gilte, me nedyth no witnes. 

And shulde I preye and weyve womanhode ? 

Nay rathere dye, than do soo creuell dede, 300 

And axse mercy causeles, what nede? 

And yf I pleyne what life that I lede, 

Thane wol yee laughe, I knowe it oute of drede. 

And yf that I to yowe myne othes beede 

For myn excuse, a scorne shall be my mede; 305 

Youre chere flourethe but it wolle not sede, 

Full longe a-gon I ought to have taken hede. 

280 forgyven. 282 As And. 285 twene. 290 soght. This stanza from MS 
Tanner 346. 293 wake wele. 294 weyve voyde. 296 avaunce. 299 weyve 
venyme. 800 than that. 


For thaughe I hade yowe nuwe to morowe agayne 

I myght als weele kepe Averyll from rayne 

As holde yow trewe, to make yowe stedfaste. 310 

Almyghti God, of trowthe soverayne, 

Where is the trowthe of man, whoo hathe it slayne ? 

Sheo that hem trustithe shall hem fynde als faste, 

As in a tempeste is the roton maste. 

Is that a tame beste that is ay fayne 315 

To fleen aweye, when he is leeste agaste? 

But mercy, swete, yf I myssaye, 

Have I ought saide oute of the waye ? 

I not; my wytte is halffe awaye, 

I fare as dothe the songe of Chaunte-pleure ; 320 

For nowe I pleyne, and now I playe, 

I am so mased that I deye. 

Arcyte hathe borne aweye the keye 

Of all my worlde, and my goode aventure. 

For in this worlde nys creature 325 

Wakynge in moore discomfiture 

Thane I, ne more sorowe endure ; 

And yf I slepe a furlonge wey or tweye, 

Than thinkithe me that youre figure 

Before me stante cloothed in asure, 330 

To profren efte, and nuwe ensure 

For to be trewe, and love me til I deye. 

The longe nyght this wonder sight I drye, 

And on the day for thilke af raye I dye, 

And of al this right nought, ewysse, yee rechche. 335 

Ne never mo myne eyen two beo drye, 

And to youre routh and to your trouthe I crye 

But welawaye ! to fer ben thei to fecche ; 

Thus holdithe me my destenye a wrechche. 

810 to and; yowe hoole. 316 leeste lefte. 332 dye. 337 rought. 


But me to rede oute of this drede or gye 340 

Ne may my witte, so weyke is it, nought strecche. 

Thanne eonde I thus, sithe I may do namore, 

And yeve it up for now and evir-more; 

For shall I never efte put in balaunse 

My sikurnesse, or leorne of love the lore. 345 

But as the swane,, I have harde sey full yore, 

Ageynist his dethe shall syngen his penaunse, 

So sey I here my destenye or chaunce, 

How that Arcyte Anelyda so sore 

Hathe thrilled with the poynte of rememberaunce. 350 

When that Annelida, this wofull quene, 
Hath of her hande writen in this wise, 
With face dede, betwixe pale and grene, 
She felle a-swow, and sith she gan to rise, 
And unto Mars avowyth sacrifice, 355 

Withinne the temple, with a sorofull chere, 
That shapyn was, as ye shall aftyr here. 

340 gye crye. 842 eondicl. 351 This stanza from Tanner MS. 



(De Consolatione Philosophiae of Boethius.) 
Chawcer vp-on this fyfte metur of the second book. 

A blysful lyf, a paysyble and a swete 

Ledden the peples in the former age; 

They helde hem paied of fructes that they etc 

Whiche that the feldes yave hem by usage. 

They ne were nat f orpampred with owtrage ; 5 

Onknowyn was the querne and ek the melle, 

They eten mast, hawes, and swych pownage, 

And dronken water of the colde welle. 

Yit nas the grownd nat wownded with the plowh, 

But corn up sprong, unsowe of mannes hond, 10 

The which they gnodded, and eete nat half inowh; 

No man yit knewe the forwes of his lond, 

No man the f yr owt of the flynt yit f onde ; 

Unkorven and ungrobbed lay the vyne ; 

No man yit in the morter spices grond, 15 

To clarre, ne to sawse of galentyne. 

No madyr, welde, or wod no litestere 

Ne knewh, the fles was of his former hewe; 

No flessh ne wyste offence of egge or spere ; 

No coyn ne knewh man, which is f als or trewe ; 20 

No ship yit karf the wawes grene and blewe ; 

No marchaunt yit ne fette owtlandissh ware; 

No trompes for the werres folk ne knewe, 

Ne towres heye, and walles rownde or square. 

What sholde it han avayled to werreye? 25 

Ther lay no profyt, ther was no rychesse; 
But corsed was the tyme, I dar wel seye, 

2 poeples. 8 of the. 6 quyerne. 18 his is. 23 batails trompes. 


That men fyrst dede hir swety bysynesse 

To grobbe up metal, lurkynge in dirkenesse, 

And in the ryverys fyrst gemmys sowhte. 30 

Alias, than sprong up al the cursydnesse 

Of coveytyse, that fyrst owr sorwe browhte ! 

Thyse tyrauntes put hem gladly nat in pres 

No wyldnesse, ne no busshes, for to wynne 

Ther poverte is, as seith Diogenes, 35 

Ther as vitayle is ek so skars and thinne 

That nat but mast or apples is therinne ; 

But ther as bagges ben and fat vitaile, 

Ther wol they gon, and spare for no synne, 

With al hir ost the cyte forto asayle. 40 

Yit was no paleis chaumbres, ne non halles, 

In kaves and in wodes softe and swete 

Sleptin this blyssed folk, withowte walles, 

On gras or leves in parfyt quiete. 

No down of fetheres, ne no bleched shete 45 

Was kyd to hem, but in surte they slepte ; 

Hir hertes were al on withowte galles, 

Everych of hem his feith to oother kepte. 

Un forged was the hawberke and the plate ; 

The lambyssh poeple, voyde of alle vyse, 50 

Hadden no fantesye to debate, 

But eche of hem wolde oother wel cheryce; 

No pride, non envye, non avaryce, 

No lord, no taylage by no tyranye ; 

Umblesse and Pes, Good Feith, the emperice, 55 

[And Hertly Fredom used hem to gye.] 

34 places wyldnesse. 42 in (2) om. 44 On or; joye reste and quiete. 
50 voyded. 56 Line lost; the editor suggests the above Skeat suggests: 
Fulfilled erthe of olde curtesye. 


Yit was nat Juppiter the lykerous, 
That fyrst was fadyr of delicasie, 
Come in this world, ne Nembrot, desyrous 
To regne, had nat maad his towres hye. 6*0 

Alias ! alias ! now may men wepe and crye, 
For in owre dayes nis but covetyse, 
Dowblenesse, and tresoun, and envye, 
Poyson, manslawhtre, and mordre in sondry wyse. 
61 men om. 64 Poyson and. 


Chauciers wordes a Geffrey unto Adame his owen scryveyne. 

Adam scryveyne, if ever it thee byfalle, 

Boece or Troylus for to wryten nuwe, 

Under thy long lokkes thowe most have the scalle, 

But affter my makyng thowe wryte more truwe; 

So ofFt a daye I mot thy werk renuwe, 

It to corect, and eke to rubbe and scrape, 

And al is thorugh thy necglygence and rape. 


Le pleintif countre Fortune. 

This wrecched worldes transmutacioun, 

As wele or wo, now pore and now honour, 

Withowten ordyr or wis descresyoun, 

Governed is by Fortunes errour. 

But natheles, the lakke of hyr favowr 5 

Ne may nat don me syngen, thowh I deye, 

'Jay tout perdu mon temps et mon labour ;' 

For fynaly, Fortune, I the deffye. 

Yit is me left the lyht of my resoun, 

To knowen frend fro foo in thi merowr. 10 

So mochel hath yit thy whirlynge up and down 

Itawht me for to knowen in an howr. 

But trewely, no fors of thi reddowr 

To hym that over hymself hath the maystrye ! 

My suffysaunce shal be my socour, 15 

For fynaly, Fortune, I thee deffye. 

Socrates, thou stidfast chaumpyoun, 
She never myhte be thi tormentowr; 
Thow never dreddest hyr oppressyoun, 

Ne in hyr chere fownde thow no savour. 20 

Thow knewe wel deseyte of hyr colour 
And that hir moste worshipe is to lye. 

1 know hir ek a fals dissimulour, 
For fynaly, Fortune, I the deffye! 

Le respounce de fortune a pleintif. 

No man ys wrechchyd, but hymself yt wene, 25 

And he that hath hymself hath suffisaunce. 

1 worlde is. 2 poeere. 12 knowe. 18 myht. 21 the deseyte 22 most. 
23 knew. 


Whi seysthow thanne, y am to the so kene, 

That hast thyself owt of my governaunce? 

Sey thus,, "graunt mercy of thyn haboundaunce, 

That thow hast lent or this." Why wolt thou stryve ? 30 

What, woost thow yit how y the wol avaunce ? 

And ek thow hast thy beste frende alyve. 

I have the tawht devisyoun bytwene 

Frend of effect and frende of cowntenaunce, 

The nedeth nat the galle of no hyene 35 

That cureth eyen derkyd for penaunce. 

Now seist thow cleer that were in ignoraunce. 

Yit halt thin ancre, and yit thow mayst aryve 

Ther bownte berth the keye of my substaunce: 

And ek thou hast thy beste frende alyve. 40 

How manye have I refused to sustene, 

Syn I the fostred have in thy plesaunce ! 

Wolthow thanne make a statute on thy quene . 

That I shal ben ay at thy ordynaunce ? 

Thow born art in my regne of varyaunce, 45 

Abowte the wheel with oother most thow dryve ; 

My loore is bet than wikke is thi grevaunce, 

And ek thou hast thy beste frende alyve. 

Le Respounce du pleintif countre fortune. 

Thy loore y dempne ! it is adversyte. 

My frend maysthow nat reven, blynde goddesse. 50 

That I thy frendes knowe, I thanke to the; 
Tak hem agayn, lat hem go lye on presse. 
The negardye in kepynge hyr rychesse 
Prenostik is, thow wolt hir towr asayle ; 
Wikke appetyt comth ay before sykenesse, 55 

In general this rewle may nat fayle. 
27 to om 48 quyene. 


Lc respounce de fortune countre le pleintif. 

Thow pynchest at my mutabylyte, 

For I the lente a drope of my rychesse ; 

And now me lykyth to withdrawe me, 

Whi sholdysthow my realte apresse? 60 

The see may ebbe and flowen moore or lesse, 

The welkne hath myht to shyne, reyne, or hayle ; 

Ryht so mot I kythen my brutelnesse, 

In general this rewle may nat fayle. 

Lo, the execussyoun of the majeste 65 

That al purveyeth of his ryhtwysnesse, 

That same thinge 'Fortune' clepyn ye, 

Ye blynde beestys ful of lewednesse ! 

The hevene hath proprete of sykyrnesse, 

This world hath ever resteles travayle. 70 

Thy laste day is ende of myn intresse, 

In general, this rewele may nat fayle. 

Lenvoy de fortune. 

Prynses, I prey yow, of yowre gentilesse, 

Lat nat this man on me thus crye and pleyne, 

And I shal quyte yow yowre bysynesse. 75 

At my requeste, as thre of yow or tweyne, 

That but yow lest releve hym of hys peyne, 

Preyeth hys beste frend of his noblesse, 

That to som betere estat he may attayne. 

65 the om.; excussyoun. 71 intersse. 78 best. 



Yowre yen two wolle sle me sodenly, 
I may the beaute of them not sustene, 
So wondeth it thorowout my herte kene. 
And but your word will helen hastily 
Mi hertis wounde, while that hit is grene, 

Your yen two wol sle me sodenly, 

I may the beaute of hem not sustene. 

Upon my trouth I sey yow feithfully 

That ye ben of my liffe and deth the quene ; 

For with my deth the trouthe shal be sene. 10 

Your yen two wol sle me sodenly 

I may the beaute of them not sustene 

So wondeth hit thorowout my herte kene. 


So hath yowr beaute fro your herte chaced 

Pitee that me navailleth not to pleyn, 15 

For Danger halt your mercy in his cheyne. 

Giltles my deth thus han ye me purchaced ; 

I sey yow soth, me nedeth not to fayn. 

So hath your beaute fro your herte chaced 

Pite that me navailleth not to pleyn. 20 

Alias that nature hath in yow compased 
So grete beaute, that no man may atteyn 
To mercy, though he sterve for the peyn. 

1 two yen. 6, 7, 11, 12, 18, etc. The refrain only indicated by two words 
10 trouth. 


So hath your beaute fro your herte chaced 

Pite that me navailleth not to pleyn 25 

For Danger halt your mercy in his cheyne. 


Syn I fro Love escaped am so fat, 

I nevere thenk to ben in his prison lene; 

Sin I am free, I counte him not a bene. 

He may answere and sey this or that; 30 

I do no fors, I speke right as I mene, 

Syn I fro Love escaped am so fat 

I nevere thenk to ben in his prison lene. 

Love hath my name istrike out of his sclat, 

And he is strike out of my bokes dene 35 

For evermo, this is non other mene, 

Syn I fro Love escaped am so fat, 

I nevere thenk to ben in his prison lene; 

Sin I am free I counte him not a bene. 


Madame, ye ben of al beaute shryne 
As fer as cercled is the mapamonde; 
For as the cristall glorious ye shyne, 
And lyke ruby ben your chekys rounde. 
Therwith ye ben so mery and so joconde 
That at a revell whan that I se you dance, 
It is an oynement unto my wounde, 
Thogh ye to me ne do no daliaunce ! 

For thogh I wepe of teres ful a tyne, 

Yet may that wo myn herte nat confounde; 10 

Your seemly voys that ye so smal outtwyne 

Makyth my thoght in joye and blys habounde. 

So curtaysly I go, with love bounde, 

That to myself I sey, in my penaunce, 

"Suffyseth me to love you, Rosemounde, 15 

Thogh ye to me do no daliaunce !" 

Nas never pyk walwed in galauntyne 

As I in love am walwed and iwounde ; 

For which ful ofte I of myself devyne 

That I am trewe Tristam the secounde. 20 

My love may not ref reyde be nor affounde ; 

I brenne ay in an amorouse plesaunce. 

Do what ye lyst ; I wyl your thral be f ounde, 

Thogh ye to me ne do no daliance. 

8 Thoght. 11 semy; smal fynall (Sk). SO trew. 


Fie fro the pres, and dwelle with sothefastnesse, 

Suffise thin owen thing, thei it be smal ; 

For horde hathe hate and clymbyng tykelnesse, 

Frees hathe envye, and wele blent overal. 

Savoure no more thanne the byhove schal, 5 

Reule weel thiself that other folk canst reede, 

And trouthe schal delyvere, it is no drede. 

Tempest the nought al croked to redresse 

In trust of hire that tourneth as a bal. 

Myche wele stant in litel besynesse, 10 

By war therfore to spume ageyns an al; 

Stryve not as dothe the crokke with the wal. 

Daunte thiself that dauntest otheres dede, 

And trouthe shal delyvere, it is no drede. 

That the is sent, receyve in buxhumnesse ; 1 5 

The wrestlyng for the worlde axeth a fal. 

Here is non home, here nys but wyldernesse, 

Forthe, pylgryme, forthe! forthe, beste, out of thi stall 

Knowe thi centre ! loke up ! thonk God of al ! 

Holde the heye-weye, and lat thi gost the lede, 20 

And trouthe shal delyvere, it is no drede. 

[L' envoy.] 

Ther-fore, thou vache, leve thine olde wrechedenesse 

Unto the world; leve now to be thral. 

Crie Hym mercy, that of Hys hie godnesse 

Made the of nought and in especial 25 

Drawe unto Hym, and pray in general 

For the and eke for other hevenelyche mede, 

And trouthe schal delyvere, it is no drede. 


The firste stocke, fader of gentilesse, 

What man desireth gentil for to be 

Must folowe his trace, and alle his wittes dresse 

Vertu to love, and vyces for to flee; 

For unto vertu longeth dignite, 5 

And nought the reverse, savely dar I deme 

Al were he miter, croune, or dyademe. 

This firste stok was full of rightwisenesse, 

Trewe of his word, sobre, pitous, and fre, 

Clene of his goost, and loved besynesse 10 

Ayenst the vyse of slouthe, in honestee; 

And but his heire love vertue as did he, 

He is nought gentil, thogh he riche seme, 

Al were he myter, croune, or dyademe. 

Vices may well be heire to olde richesse, 15 

But ther may no man, as men may well se, 

Biquethe his heire his vertuous noblesse ; 

That is aproprid unto no degre, 

But to the first fader in magestee, 

That maketh his heires hem that can hym queme, 20 

Al were he mytre, croune, or dyademe. 

7 coroune miter. 8 first. 14, 21 coroune. 15 Vicesse. 17 vertues noblisse. 
20 can om. 


Litera directa de Scogon per. G. C. 

To-brokene ben the statutis hye in hevene 

That creat were eternally to dure, 

Syn that I se the bryghte goddis sevene 

Mow wepe and wayle, and passioun endure, 

As may in erthe a mortal creature. 5 

Alias, fro whennes may this thyng precede? 

Of whiche errour I deye almost for drede. 

Be word eterne whilhom was it schape 

That fro the fifte serkele, in no manere, 

Ne myghte a drope of teeris doun escape; 10 

But now so wepyth Venus in hir spere, 

That with hire teris sche wele drenche us here. 

Alias, Skogon, this is for thyn offence, 

Thu causist this deluge of pestelence. 

Hast thu not seyd, in blaspheme of the goddis, 15 

Thour pride, or thour thy grete rechelesnesse, 

Swich thyng as in the lawe of love forbode is, 

That for thy ladi saw not thy distresse, 

Therfore thou yeve hire up at Mychelmesse ! 

Alias, Scogon, of olde folk ne yong, 20 

Was nevere erst Scogon blamyd for his tong ! 

Thow drow in scorn Cupid ek to record 

Of thilke rebel word that thou hast spoken ; 

For whiche he wele no lengere be thy lord. 

And thow his bowe, Scogon, be not broken, 25 

He wil not with his arwis ben iwroken 

On the, ne me, ne none of oure figure; 

We schal of him have neyther hurt ne cure. 

1 hye om. 4 pascioun. 6 whens. 11 his. 14 deluye. 17 forbodyn. 
20 no thong. 23 the like. 



Now sertys, frend, I drede of thyn onhap, 
Lest for thy gilt the wreche of love precede 
On alle hem, that ben hore and round of schap, 
That ben so likly folk in love to spede. 
Thanne schal we for oure labour han no mede; 
But wel I wit, thou wilt answere and seye, 
"Lo, olde Grisil leste to ryme and pleye." 

Nay, Scogon, sey not so, for I me excuse, 
God helpe me so ! in no rym douteles, 
Ne thynke I nevere of slep to wake my muse, 
That rustyth in myn schethe stylle in pes. 
Whil I was yong, I putte it forth in pres ; 
But al schal passyn that men prose or ryme, 
Tak every man his torn, as for his tyme. 


Scogan, that knelist at the wellis hed 

Of grace, of alle honour and worthynesse, 

In the ende of wich strem I am dul as ded, 

Forgete in solitarie wildirnes, 

Yit, Scogan, thynk on Tullius kyndenes ; 

Mynne thy frend, there it may fructifie, 

Farewel, and loke thou nevere eft Love defye ! 

39 schede. 47 thyng. 48 Mynewe. 



.i. Wyndis 

a Grenewych 


Geffrey Chauncier sende these Balades to kyng Richard. 

Sumtyme this world was so stedefast and stable 

That mannes word was obligacioun, 

But now it is so fals and disceyvable 

That word and dede, as in conclusioun, 

Ben nothyng on, for turned up so doun 5 

Is al this world for mede and wilfulnesse, 

That al is lost for lak of stedefastnesse. 

What maketh this world to be so variable 

But lust that f olkis han in discensioun ? 

For nowadayes a man is holde unable 10 

But yf he can, by som collusioun, 

Do to his neyghbur wrong or oppressioun. 

What causeth that but wilful wrecchednesse, 

That al is lost for lak of stedefastnesse ? 

Trouthe is put doun, resoun is holde fable; 15 

Vertu hath now no domynacioun; 

Pyte exiled, no man is mercyable; 

Thurgh covetyse is blent discrecioun ; 

The world hath mad a permutacioun 

Fro ryght to wrong, fro trouthe to fikulnesse, 20 

That al is lost for lak of stedefastnesse. 


O prince, desyre to be honurable, 

Cherysshe thi folk, and hate extorcioun ; 

Suffre no thyng that may be reproveable 

To thyn estate don in thi regioun. 25 

Shewe forth thi swerd of castigacioun, 

Drede God, do lawe, love trouthe and rightwesnesse, 

And dryve thi peple agayn to stedefastnesse. 


My maister Bukton, whan of Criste our kyng 
Was axed, what ys trouthe or sothefastnesse, 
He nat a worde answerde to that axinge, 
As who saith: "Noo man is al trewe, I gesse." 
And therfore, though I highte to expresse 
The sorwe and woo that is in manage, 
I dar not writen of hyt noo wikkednesse, 
Leste y myself falle eft in swich dotage. 

I wol nat seyn, how that hyt is the cheyne 

Of Sathanas, on which he gnaweth evere ; 1 

But I dar seyn, were he oute of his peyne, 

As by his wille he wolde be bounde nevere. 

But thilke doted foole that efte hath levere 

Ycheyned be than out of prison crepe, 

God lete him never fro his woo dissevere, 15 

Ne noo man him bewayle, though he wepe. 

But yet, lest thow doo worse, take a wyf e ; 

Bet ys to wedde than brenne in worse wise, 

But thow shalt have sorwe on thy flessh thy lyfe, 

And ben thy wif es thral, as seyn these wise ; 20 

And yf that hooly writte may nat suffyse, 

Experience shal the teche, so may happe, 

That the were lever to be take in Frise, 

Than eft to falle of weddynge in the trappe. 


This lytel writte, proverbes, or figure 
I sende yow, take kepe of hyt, I rede. 

6 hight. IS efte ofte. 24 to om. 


Unwise is he that kan noo wele endure, 
Yf thow be siker, put the nat in drede. 
The Wyfe of Bathe I pray yow that ye rede 
Of this matere that we have on honde, 30 

God graunte yow your lyfe frely to lede 
In f redam, for ful harde is to be bonde. 
32 it is. 


And filowing begynnethe a balade translated out of frenshe 
into englisshe by Chaucier Geffrey the frenshe made sir 
Otes de Grauntsome knight Savosyen. 

Ther nys so hye coumfort to my plesaunce, 

Whane that I am in any hevynesse, 

As for to have leyser of remembraunce 

Upon the manhoode and the worthynesse, 5 

Upon the trouthe and the stedfastnesse 

Of him, whos I am alweys, whyle I may dure; 

Ther aught to blamen me no creature, 

For he is croppe and roote of gentylesse. 

In him is bountee, wysdam, and gouvernaunce, 

Weel more thanne any mannes wit kan gesse; 10 

For grace hathe wolde so ferfoorthe him avaunce, 

That of knighthoode he is parfyt rychchesse. 

Honnour honourethe him for his noblesse ; 

Therto so wel hathe fortuned him Nature, 

That I am his for ever, I him ensure, 15 

For every wight preysethe his gentylesse. 

And nought-withstanding al his souffisaunce, 

His gentyle hert is of so gret humblesse 

To me, in worde, in werk, in countenaunce, 

And me to serve is al his besynesse, 20 

That I am sette in verray sikurnesse ; 

Thus aught me wele to blesse myn aventure, 

Sith that him list me serven and honneure, 

For every wight preysethe his gentylesse. 


Nowe certes, Love, hit is right covenable 
That men ful soore abye thy noble thing, 


As waake abedde, and fasting at the table, 
Weping to laughe, and sing in compleyning, 
And doune to caste vysage and looking, 
Offtymes to chaunge huwe and countenaunce, 
Pleye in sleping, and dremen at the daunce, 
Al the revers of any glaade felyng. 

Thaughe j alousye wer hanged by a kable, 
Sheo wolde al knowe, thorughe hir espying; 
Ther doothe no wight no thing so raysonnable 
That al nys harme in hir ymagynyng; 
Thus deere abought is love in gyving, 
Whiche offt he gyvethe withoute ordeynaunce, 
As sorowe enoughe, and lytel of plesaunce, 
Al the revers of every glaade feeling. 

A lytel tyme his gyfft is agreable, 

But ful encoumberous is the using; 

For soutyle j alousye the deceyvable 

Ful offten-tymes causethe destourbing, 

Thus beon we ever in dreed souffering, 

In nouncertaine we langwisshe in penaunce, 

And have wel offt many an herd meschaunce, 

Al the revers of every glaade feelyng. 







But certes, Love, I say not in suche wyse, 
That for teschape oute of youre lace I ment, 
For I so long have beon in youre servyce 
That for to leet of wol I never assente ; 
No force, thaughe Jalousye me more tourment, 
Souffisethe me to seon him whane I may, 
And therfore, certes, unto myn eending day, 
To love him best ne shal I never repent. 




And certes, Love, whanne I me weel avyse 

On any estate, that man may represent, 

Thane have yee maked me, thorughe youre f raunchyse, 

Cheese the best, that ever on eorthe went. 60 

Nowe love weele, hert, and looke thou never stent, 

And let the jalouse put it nowe in assay e, 

That for no peyne ne shal I never sey naye, 

To love him best, ne never to repent. 

Herte, to the hit aught enoughe souffyse, 65 

That Love so hye a grace hathe to thee sent, 

To cheese the worthyest of alle wyse, 

And mooste agreable, unto myn entent; 

Seeche nowe no firther, neyther wey ner went, 

Sythe I have souffysaunce unto my paye, 70 

Thus wol I eonde this compleynt or this laye, 

To love him best, and never to repent. 


Pryncesse, resceyvethe this complaynt in gree, 

Unto youre excellent benignytee 

Dyrect, affter my lytel souffysaunce ; 75 

For eelde, that in my spiryt doullethe me, 

Hathe of thendyting al the subtylytee 

Welnyeghe byrafft out of my remembraunce ; 

And eeke to me it is right gret penaunce, 

Sith ryme in Englisshe hathe suche skarsytee, 80 

To folowen word by word the curyosytee 

Of Graunsome, flour of hem that make in Fraunce. 

Hit is sayde that Graunsome made this Last balade f 
Venus resembled to my lady of york aunswering the com 
playnt of Mars. 

65 Hert. 72 To And. 


To yow, my purse, and to noon other wight 

Complayn I, for ye be my lady dere. 

I am so sory now that ye been lyght, 

For certes, but yf ye make me hevy chere, 

Me were as leef be layde upon my bere ; 5 

For whiche unto your mercy thus I crye, 

Beeth hevy ageyne, or elles mote I dye. 

Now vouchethsauf this day or hyt be nyght, 

That I of yow the blisful soune may here, 

Or see your colour lyke the sonne bryght, 10 

That of yelownesse hadde never pere. 

Ye be my lyfe, ye be myn hertys stere, 

Quene of comfort and of good company e ; 

Beth hevy ayeyne or elles moote I dye. 

Now, purse, that ben to me my ly ves lyght, 1 5 

And saveour as doun in this worlde here, 

Oute of this toune helpe me thurgh your myght, 

Syn that ye wole nat bene my tresorere ; 

For I am shave as nye as is a ffrere, 

But yet I pray unto your curtesye, 20 

Bethe hevy ayen, or elles moote I dye. 

Lenvoy de Chaucer. 

O conquerour of Brutes Albyoun, 

Whiche that by lygne and free eleccioun 

Been \erray kynge, this song to yow I sende! 

And ye, that mowen alle myn harme amende, 25 

Have niynde upon my supplicacioun ! 


What shal thees clothes many fold, 
Loo, this hoote somers day? 

Affter gret heet komethe cold, 
No man cast his pilche away. 

Quod Chaucer. 

Of this worlde the wyde compas, 
Hit wol not in myn armes tweyne ; 

Who so mychel wol embrace, 
Lytel ther-of he shal destreyne. 

Quod Chaucer. 


Balade that Chaucier made. 

So hath my herte caught in remembraunce 
Yowre beaute hoole, and stedfast governaunce, 

Yowre vertues al, and yowre hie noblesse, 
That yow to serve is set al my plesaunce. 
So wel me likith youre womanly contenaunce, 5 

Youre fresshe fetures and youre comlinesse, 

That while I live, my hert to his maystresse 
Yow hath ful chose, in triew perseveraunce, 

Never to chaunge for no maner distresse. 

And sith I shal do this observaunce 10 

Al my lyve withouten displesaunce, 

Yow for to serve with al my besynesse, 

[Take my service in gre, and nat grevaunce,] 

And have me somwhat in your souvenaunce. 

My woful herte suffrith grete duresse; 15 

And [lo] how humb[le]ly, with al symplesse, 

My wil I conforme to your ordynaunce, 

As you best list, my peynes for to redresse. 

Considryng eek how I hange in balaunce 

In your servyce; swiche, lo, is my chaunce, 20 

Abidyng grace, whan that yowre gentilnesse 
Of my grete wo list doon allegeaunce, 
And with your pite me som wyse avaunce, 

In ful rebatyng of myn hevynesse ; 

And thinkith be raison, that wommanly noblesse 25 

Shuld nat desyre til do the outraunce 

Theras she fyndith non unbuxumnesse. 

18 Line lost; ihe editor suggests the above. 



Auctour of norture, lady of plesaunce, 

Soveraigne of beaute, floure of wommanhede, 

Take ye non hede unto myn ignoraunce, 
But this receyvith of your goodlyhede, 

Thynkyng that I have caught in remembraunce 

Yowre beaute hole, your stidefast governaunce. 


Against Women Inconstant. 

Madame, for your newefangelnesse, 

Manie a servaunt have ye put oute of grace. 

I take my leve of your unstedf astnesse ; 

For wel I wote, while ye to lyve have space, 

Ye kunnought love ful half yeer in a place, 5 

To newe thinges your lust is ever kene, 

In sted of blue, thus may ye were al grene. 


Right as a mirrour, that nothing may enpresse, 

But lightly as it cometh, so mot it pace, 

So fareth your love; your werkes bereth witnesse. 10 

Ther is no feith that may your hert enbrace; 

But as a wedercok, that turneth his face 

With every wynd, ye fare, and that is sene ; 

In sted of bliwe, thus may ye were al grene. 


Ye might be shrined for your brotilnesse 15 

Bettir thanne Dalide, Cresside, or Candace, 

For evere in changeng stondeth your sikernesse; 

That tacche may no wight fro your hert arace ; 

Yif ye lese oon, ye kunne wel tweine purchace ; 

All light for somer ye wote wel what I mene 20 

In sted of blewe, thus may ye were al grene. 

2 of your. 6 so kene. 15 your om. 



Litell Lowys my sone, I have perceived wele by 
certeyne evidences thine abilite to lerne sciencez 
touchinge noumbres and proporciouns ; and as wel 
considere I thy bisi preyere in special to lerne the 
Tretis of the Astrelabie. Than, for as mechel as a 
philosofre seith, "He wrappeth him in his frend, 
that condescendeth to the rihtful preiers of his 
frend," therfor have I geven the a suffisaunt Astre 
labie as for owre orizonte, compowned after the lati 
tude of Oxenford; upon which, by mediacion of 10 
this litel tretis, I purpose to teche thee a certein of 
conclusions apertenyng to the same instrument. I 
seye a certein of conclusiouns for three causes. The 
furste cause is this: truste wel that alle the conclu 
siouns that han ben fownde, or elles possibli myhten 15 
be fownde in so noble an instrument as an Astra- 
labie, ben unknowe perfidy to any mortal man in this 
regioun, as I suppose. Another cause is this: that 
sothly in any tretis of the Astrelabie that I have 
seyn, there ben some conclusions that wole nat in alle 20 
thinges performen hir byhestes; and some of hem 
ben to harde to thy tendre age of ten yer to conseyve. 

This tretis, divided in fyve parties, wole I shewe 
the under ful lighte rewles and naked wordes in 
Englissh, for Latyn ne kanstow yit but smal, my lite 25 
sone. But natheles, suffise to thee thise trewe con 
clusiouns in Englissh, as wel as suffiseth to thise noble 
clerkes Grekes thise same conclusiouns in Grek, and 
to Arabiens in Arabik, and to Jewes in Ebrew, and 
to the Latyn folk in Latyn; whiche Latyn folk han 20 
hem furst out of othre diverse langages, and writen 


in hir owne tonge, that is to sein, in Latyn. And 
God wot, that in alle thise langages, and many mo, 
han thise conclusiouns ben suffisantly lerned and 
tawht, and yit by diverse rewles, ryht as diverse 35 
pathes leden diverse folk the rihte wey to Roome. 
Now wol I prey mekly every discret persone that 
redith or herith this litel tretis, to have my rewde 
endytyng for excused, and my superfluite of wordes, 
for two causes: the firste cause is, for that curios 40 
enditing and hard sentence is ful hevy atones for 
swich a child to lerne. And the seconde cause is this ; 
that sothly me semeth betre to writen unto a child 
twies a good sentence, than he forget it ones. And 
Lowis, yif so be that I shewe thee in my lihte 45 
Englissh as trewe conclusiouns touching this matere, 
and nawht only as trewe but as many and as subtil 
conclusiouns as ben shewed in Latyn in ani com 
mune tretis of the Astrelabie, kon me the more 
thank; and preye God save the kyng, that is lord 50 
of this langage, and alle that him feyth bereth and 
obeieth, everech in his degree, the more and the lasse. 
But considere wel, that I ne usurpe nat to have 
fownde this werk of my labour or of myn engin; I 
nam but a lewd compilatour of the labour of olde 55 
Astrolog[i]ens, and have hit translated in myn 
Englissh only for thi doctrine; and with this swerd 
shal I slen envie. 



I. Pronunciation. 1-4. 

II. Language. 5-33. 

III. Notes on Special Usages. 34-39. 

IV. Meter. 40-42. 
V. Life. 43-50. 

VI. Dates of Chaucer's Works. 51-52. 
VII. Chaucer's Reading. 53-58. 
VIII. The Human Comedy of the "Canterbury Tales." 59. 

I. Pronunciation. 

1. Pronunciation of the Middle English of Chaucer. 
The beginner will find the vowels his chief difficulty in 
Chaucerian pronunciation. The consonants are pronounced 
nearly as by a Scotchman today; that is to say, the r is trilled, 
and gh has the sound of the Scottish ch in loch. Words 
derived from the French retained more of the French dis 
tinctness of utterance; -cion, -tion, -sion, -ssion kept the 
distinct ci-on, ti-on, ssi-on, with no sh sound. French -ge, 
as in age, retained the soft zh sound, gn the n sound of 
canon. Kn as in German Knabe, kept the original sound; 
and ng retained the full sound of the g as in anger, not as 
in singer. Th in certain proper names probably was tt, as 
in Thopas, Atthenes; elsewhere as in modern English. 
Other consonants were sounded nearly as they are today. 

2. The vowels present more difficulty. In general, one 
should keep in mind the values of vowels in Continental lan 
guages, rather than in modern English. The three most 
difficult rules to remember are (1) a always as in German 
Mann or Vater; (2) e in long syllables always as e or e in 
French, not as in mere, weed; (3) doubling of vowels does 
not change the sound except to lengthen it; thus boote is 
like modern boat, not modern boot; heede is like modern 
hayed, not like our heed. The other rules are simple, and 
easily kept in mind; most errors are due to forgetfulness of 
the rules just given. 



3. Table of vowel-sounds. 


a as in Ger. Mann, 
e as in then. 

i, y as in inn. 

o as in Ger. Gott. 

u as in full, rarely as in cup. 
Written often o in words 
which today have a u 
sound: moche (much), 
sonne (sun), ronne (run), 
companye; also in dore, 
spore, wolle. 

ay, ey as ai in straits. 

ou, ow as in French doux, English you. 


aa, a as in father. 

e open as in where, or 

e closed as in way. Chaucer 
rarely rimed open and close 
long e (ex. lere, here); but 
the rime does occur. Most 
Americans can make little 
distinction in the sounds. 

I, y as in gasoline. Found in 
words which today have 
the diphthongal i sound: 
life, hide, child, plight 
(ME plit). But note that 
ME words in -ght have the 
short i: lyght, myghte. 

6 open as in more, and 

6 close as in boat. The dis 
tinction is of little value to 
the beginner. Chaucer 
evidently felt free to break 
the rule against riming o 
open and close.* 

u as in compute, suit. 

* By the use of the etymologies given in the Glossary, the student can 
readily distinguish between open and close 6, open and close e, if he 
observes the rules here given: (1) ME open e is found in words which 
in AS had ae, e, ea; (2) ME close e is found in words which in AS had 
e, e before -Id, eo, and also in ME final e; (3) ME open 6 is found in 
words which in AS had a, a (from ae, ea), o in open syllables, and before 
-Id; (4) ME close 6 is found in words which in AS had 6 (also in 
ON 6). 




au as ou in house, or as au in German aus. 

ew, e plus oo,* fewe, newe, trewe (not as in modern 

oi as in modern speech, joye. 

4. Doubling of vowels, as has been said, indicates a long 
vowel only, not a different sound from the single vowel, as 
in our writing. Doubled consonants were, as in modern 
Italian, given full value; son-ne, ron-ne. 

II. Language. 

5. Chaucer's Language. Chaucer's language was that of 
the London of his day, which grammarians now call the 
Southeast Midland dialect of Middle English. Soon after 
his time this dialect became the standard English speech, 
especially after the establishment of Caxton's press at West 
minster (1477); so that our own literary language descends 
directly from Chaucer's dialect. 

6. Before the stage known as Middle English, in the cen 
turies previous to 1150, lies the stage which we call Anglo- 
Saxon, or Old English, the chief monument of which is the 
epic poem Beowulf. Anglo-Saxon may be distinguished from 
Middle English by its more elaborate system of inflections 
in nouns and verbs, and its freedom from the influence of 
French. Apart from some words of Danish or Norse 
(Scandinavian) origin, and a very few from Latin, Old Eng 
lish was a "self-supporting" tongue. 

7. Middle English, on the other hand, received many 
words from French, either through the dialect of the Nor 
mans in England (Anglo-French, "AF"), or later through the 
Old French of the Continent ("OF"). The inflections which 
in Anglo-Saxon are only slightly less numerous than in 
classical Latin, were mostly lost, or reduced to a common 
stage, that known as final -e. 

8. Final -e. This suffix, the distinguishing feature of 
Middle English, has been long lost as a syllable, though 
retained in the spelling of many words. In Chaucer's day 
it was already beginning to disappear in pronunciation; but 

* Almost as in our mimicking of a dandy's vewy for very. 


the memory of it was still sufficiently fresh in England to 
permit its use in the counted syllables, chiefly unaccented, 
of poetry. The similar use of -e in contemporary French 
poetry, which had a great influence on English literature, no 
doubt assisted its preservation. On the other hand, some 
poets of Chaucer's day did not employ the final -e as a pro 
nounced syllable. William Parys, the squire of Thomas 
Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick whose son, Lord William 
Beauchamp, was a friend of Chaucer's wrote a poem, St. 
Cristine, in 1397, in which the -e is practically non-existent.* 
It is certain, also, that Chaucer felt free, in some cir 
cumstances, to neglect or slur this syllable that is to say, 
to count ten syllables in a line of decasyllabic verse, regard 
less of some of the syllables ending in -e, -es, -ed, and even 

9. The manuscripts of Chaucer's poems, which now exist, 
were written after Chaucer's death. In the case of the shorter 
poems, the manuscripts are perhaps fifty years later. They 
exhibit, to various degrees, many final -e's which were never 
sounded in speech, since they did not represent any syllabic 
ending in Anglo-Saxon or Old French. As we do not pos 
sess any manuscripts in Chaucer's handwriting, we do not 
know whether he was in the habit of writing these or not; 
in other words, whether the manuscripts of Chaucer in any 
way represent his own spelling. Believing that any recon 
struction of Chaucer's spelling, from the extant manuscripts, 
is impossible at present, the editor prefers to exhibit the 
actual spelling of a trustworthy manuscript of each work.f 
If the student learns carefully the following rules for the 

* The -e's in black type in the stanza below would have been normally 
sounded in Chaucer. This copy of Parys is from MS. Arundel 168, folio 
4b, Brit. Mus. 

Seint Cristyne, helpe thorough thi prayer 

That we may fare the better for the, 
That hath ben longe in prisoun here, 

The He of Man, that stronge cuntre ; 

Sir Thomas Beawchamp, an erle was he, 
In Warwikshire was his power, 

Now is he of so povre degre, 
He hath no man, save on squier. 

t The marks of abbreviation above final r, p, and n (where -e is possibly 
meant) have not been expanded. Otherwise the MS. text spellings are 


sounding of final -e, the spelling of the manuscripts will give 
him no trouble; and he will understand better the history of 
Chaucer criticism and of our own texts than from a so-called 
"normalized" text. 

10. Final -e generally appears in the Middle English 
poetry of Chaucer with syllabic value in the following forms: 

(a) In certain nouns of Anglo-Saxon or other Germanic 
origin.* Ex. bere, bowe, drope, erthe, herte, eye, leche, sone, 
answere, bote, comynge, mayde, cloude, tere, drede. 

(b) In nouns of Romance (Old French) origin which 
originally ended in -e mute. Ex. age, chere, cure, distresse, 
gyse, lettre, madame, route, signe, substaunce, violence, 

(c) In some Romance nouns which did not originally end 
in -e. Ex. travayle, mene. 

(d) In certain nouns preceded by prepositions, represent 
ing an old (petrified) dative in -e. Ex. on honde, in toune. 

(e) In certain adjectives of Germanic origin. Ex. grene, 
mylde, thikke. 

(f) In Romance adjectives, ending in -e mute. Ex. digne, 
huge, humble. 

(g) In some Romance adjectives which did not end in -e 
mute. Ex. clere, comune, secounde. 

(h) In adjectives preceded by a possessive or demonstra 
tive pronoun, or by the definite article; i.e., in the "definite" 
or "weak" form of adjectives. Ex. the beste rym, my dere 
foo, this swete preest. 

(i) In adjectives in the vocative, preceding their noun. 
Ex. O longe day! Now, faire lady! Leve brother! Seynte 
Marie !f 

(j) In the plural of monosyllabic adjectives, and occa 
sionally of polysyllabic adjectives where the meter may 
require it. Ex. gode men, longe nyghtes, the frendlyeste 

(k) In adverbs of Anglo-Saxon origin, ending in -e. Ex. 
clene, depe, lowde, sodeynliche. But ryght and lyk. 

(1) In certain particles of adverbial or prepositional use. 
Ex. aboute, bothe, bysyde, sone. 

* See 15 below for details. The etymologies in the Glossary are in 
tended to guide the student in observing these nouns, and similar sources 
of -e. 

t On seinte, see the Glossary. 


(m) In verbs, in 

(1) The first person singular, present indicative: I wake. 

(2) The plural present indicative: We wake (waketh, 

(3) The singular and plural present subjunctive: If he 

(4) The imperative second person singular and plural of 
most weak verbs: Leve wel. 

(5) The infinitive: To telle (tellen). 

(6) The verbal noun: Comynge. 

(7) The perfect participle of strong verbs: She was 

(8) The preterite indicative, first and third persons sin 
gular, of weak verbs (ending in -ed, -t, in modern 
English) : I wenede, wende. 

(9) Preterite indicative, second person singular of 
strong verbs: thou founde, thou woke. 

(10) Preterite plural of all verbs: they wente, we songe. 

(11) Preterite subjunctive, all verbs: er that he sawe. 

11. Final en appears in 

(a) The plural of certain nouns: sustren, shoon. 

(b) Certain particles: aboven, withouten. 

(c) The infinitive: to singen. 

(d) The plural forms of verbs: they wenten, we that 

(e) The past participle of strong verbs. 

(f) Reflexive pronouns: myselven. 

12. Final es appears in 

(a) The possessive singular of nouns: wommannes 

(b) The plural of nouns: dogges, hogges. 

(c) Some adverb forms: ones, twyes. 

The above list is intended for ready reference only. 
Chaucer's system of inflections, with their chief Anglo-Saxon 
equivalents, are given in fuller detail in the sections that 

13. The Noun. In Anglo-Saxon nouns are divided into 
two classes, according as the stem originally ended in a 
vowel or in a consonant. Vowel-stems make up the strong, 
stems in -n the weak declension. Other consonantal stems 
are grouped by themselves. Owing to the loss in primitive 
or prehistoric Anglo-Saxon of final short vowels and of final 



consonants of stems, it is not possible in Anglo-Saxon to 
distinguish all these classes at first glance. Comparative 
study of other Germanic tongues, such as Gothic and Old 
Norse, has therefore been employed. Various case-endings 
had also been lost before the historic period of Anglo-Saxon, 
so that the English language, at its earliest known stage, 
was already a language of partly leveled inflections. The 
Middle English of Chaucer, and our own modern English, 
represent further steps along this same course of develop 

14. It is not proposed here to give an outline of all Anglo- 
Saxon inflections, but only of such as are perhaps sufficient 
to illustrate the development of Chaucerian English. A few 
only of the several types of noun-inflection are given. 


masc. M. Eng. 

neut. M. Eng. 

Sing. Nom. 

stan (stoon) 

word (word) 


stanes (stoones) 

wordes (wordes) 







PI. Nom. Ace. 

stanas (stoones) 

word (wordes) 









fern. M. Eng. 

fem. M. Eng. 

Sing. Nom. 

giefu, -o (gyft) 

cwen (quene) 


giefe (gyftes) 

cwene (quenes) 






PI. Nom. Ace. 

giefe, -a (gyftes) 

cwene (quenes) 


giefa, (-ena) 






fern. M. Eng, 

Sing. Nom. 

tunge (tunge) 


tungan (tunges) 





_ 1. Nom. Ace. 

tungan (tunges) 






15. The nominative case in nouns in Chaucer ends in -e, 
of such nouns as in Anglo-Saxon were 

(a) Of the n- declension, masculine, feminine, and neuter. 
Ex. drope (AS m. dropa), harpe (AS f. hearpe), ere (AS 
n. eare). 

(b) Masculine and neuter nouns of the vowel-stem declen 
sions, which ended in AS in a final vowel. Ex. ende (AS 
m. ende), spere (AS n. spere). 

(c) Feminine nouns of the vowel-stem declensions that 
ended in -u in the nominative, in Anglo-Saxon. Ex. care 
(AS f. caru), dore (AS f. duru), lawe (AS f. lagu). 

(d) Monosyllabic feminine nouns with a long stem- 
syllable. The -e here in oblique cases influenced the nomi 
native. Ex. bote (AS f. hot), cheste (AS f. cest), halle (AS 
f. heall). 

Certain very common words are exceptions to this. Ex. 
ok, plyt, sped, thryft, wight, won, world, bench, bok, bond, 
might, nyght. 

(e) Nouns of the gerund form, in -ing, -inge, -yng, -ynge. 
Not the present participle. 

(f) Nouns, ending in -en in Anglo-Saxon, apocopate to -e. 
Ex. eve (AS n. aefen), game AS n. gamen), mayde (AS n. 

(g) Some masculine and neuter nouns end in -e, which in 
AS ended in a consonant in the nominative. Ex. botme 
(AS botm), cloude (AS clud), dethe (AS dea, welkne 

(h) The "petrified" dative. Some familiar phrases, con 
taining in AS a preposition with the dative case, remain in 
Chaucer. Ex. to borwe, on horse, to bedde. 

(i) Some nouns of uncertain derivation end in -e. Ex. 
drede (AS verb draedan), hye (AS verb higian). 

16. Nouns which in Old French end in -e, retain the -e 
in Chaucer. Ex. fortune, aventure. 

17. Genitive. The genitive singular of nouns ends in -es 
in Chaucer. Certain nouns are exceptions to this rule, being 
usually old genitival forms. Ex. his lady grace, his herte 
blood, his fader wil. 

Proper nouns in -s often have a genitive identical with the 
nominative. Ex. That was the kyng Priamus sone of Troye. 

18. Plurals. The plural of nouns ends regularly in -es, 
or (if the nominative ends in -e) in -s. 



Words in -aunt, -ent, -ioun, -ion, -r, -en, -on, -an, usually 
take -s, -z. Ex. servauntz, payementz, prisouns. 
Certain other exceptions to the -s plural should be noted. 

(a) asshen, ben, eyen, foon, shoon. 

(b) brethren, doughtren, sustren, children, hosen. 

(c) feet, men, wommen. 

(d) (Plural identical with singular) wyntir, yer, nyght, 
folk, thyng. 

19. Genitive Plural. Except in a few cases, as in nonne 
preest, the genitive plural is identical with the nominative. 

The old dative plural exists only in particles such as 
whilom, a thousand sithe (AS sithum), fote (AS fotum). 

20. Adjectives. 

(a) Anglo-Saxon adjectives, ending in -e or -a in the 
strong form, end in -e in Chaucer. Ex. blithe (AS blij>e), 
clene (AS claene), grene (AS grene); lyte, muche, from AS 
lyt, lytel, micel, mycel, retain the -e. 

(b) Some adjectives, probably in the petrified vocative, 
or in a weak use as a well-known epithet, take -e in Chaucer. 
Ex. hye God, goode fayre Whyt, longe while (perhaps from 
AS ace. of time). 

(c) Some adjectives of Germanic origin other than Anglo- 
Saxon, take -e. Ex. badde, lowe, meke, shene, wykke. 

(d) Romance adjectives preserve their -e in Chaucer. 
Ex. huge, nice, straunge. 

(e) Some Romance adjectives get -e in Chaucer, perhaps 
from the influence of the feminine ending. Ex. comune. 

Some Romance adjectives preserve their French endings: 
o bele nece, egles tercels. 

(f) All weak or definite adjectives end in -e. Exceptions 
occur, his good wil, the first day of the yere. 

(g) Vocative adjectives before the noun are in the weak 
form, with -e. O harde grace. 

(h) Dissyllabic and trisyllabic adjectives, accented on the 
penult, keep or drop -e in the weak form, to suit the metrical 
needs, according to the position of the accent of the following 
word. Ex. this woful day, the grettest joy, his excellent 
nature, the wofulleste wight. 

(i) Monosyllabic plural adjectives end in -e. Ex. dede 

In the predicate position this -e is sometimes lost. Ex. 
Ye be so wys. 


(j) Plural polysyllabic adjectives do not take -e, except 
rarely for metrical needs. 

(k) Adjectives end as now in -er, -est in the comparative 
and superlative. 

21. Pronouns. 

Nominative. Possessive Accusative. 

I, y, ich, ik my, myn me 

thou, thow thy, thyn the, thee 

he his, hise hym, him 

she, sche, scho hire, hir (mon. syll.) hire, here (mon. syll.) 

it, hit his it, hit 

we our, oure us 

ye your, youre yow, you 

they, thei hire, here hem, them 

ther, their 

Absolute or Attributive. 

thyn (thow is often attached to verbs, as sekestow?) 

hires (usually monosyllabic) 

cures, oure 
youres, youre 
hires, theires 

22. Relative pronouns appear as in modern English. 

(a) Which often appears with conjunctive that; which 
that, the which that. Swych appears along with such; pi. 
aldre, in compounds like alderbest, alderlest, aldermost, alder- 
bothe, men (me), noon, nought, etc. 

(b) Al. Alle in the singular is often found, alongside al; 
plural regularly alle. Genitive plural (AS ealra), alder, 
aldre, in compounds like alderbest, alderlest, aldermost, alder- 

(c) Reflexive forms in -en occur regularly, as myselven, 
hemselven, etc. 

(d) Demonstratives, 
that, pi. tho. 

thilke, pi. thilke (that ilke). 

this, pi. this, thise, these (monosyllabic). 

this ilke. 

that oon, that other, by corruption the toon, the tother. 


(e) Intcrrogatives. Who, whos, whom, ho, hos, horn, 
what, which (often used for our what). What often equals 
why. What shulde he fasten? 

23. Adverbs. 

(a) The Anglo-Saxon ending of adverbs in -e is preserved. 
Ex. bryghte, softe. 

Ryght and lyk, really conjunctives, are exceptions. 

(b) Adverbs end also in -ly, -lich, -liche (the latter end 
ings rare before consonants). Ex. Softeliche he cam. They 
ronnen hastifliche. 

(c) Adverbs are compared as in modern English. Observe 
the forms bet, wors, mo, ner, more, lasse, derre, ferther, 
ferre, gladlyer, best, mest. 

(d) Some adverbial particles end in -es in Chaucer, either 
from the AS ending, or by analogy. Ex. algates (ONorse 
alle gotu), amonges (AS onmang), ageynes (AS ongsegnes), 
elles, ellis (AS elles), hennes (AS heonan, hionan). So 
ones, thennes, thries, togederes, towardes, twyes, unnethes, 

24. The Verb. In Chaucer, as in Anglo-Saxon, the verbs 
are divided into the strong and weak conjugations. The 
strong verbs form the preterite and other past forms by 
means of ablaut, or vowel-gradation of the verb stem-vowel; 
the weak verbs for the past add -de, -te, for the past participle 

25. Strong Verbs. Including the verbs which at an earlier 
stage of the language employed reduplication, the strong 
verbs appear in seven classes; that is, the vowel-gradations in 
the stems appear in seven combinations. 

Strong Verbs, vowel-gradation in Anglo-Saxon. 

Stem I. Stem II. Stem III. Stem IV. 

2 pret. sing., 

All forms ot 1 and 3 pret. pret. pi. and 

present. sing. subj. Past part. 

1. Ibidan(bide) a bad ibidon ibiden 

2. eobeodan eabead ubudon oboden 

3. i, e bindan a band u bundon u, o bunden 

4. e,beran aebaer aebaeron o boren 

5. e metan ae maet ae maeton e meten 

6. a faran 6 for 6 f oron a faren, faeren 
Class seven will be considered separately. 



26. Mood and tense-endings being alike for all strong 
verbs, a single paradigm of Anglo-Saxon risan is given with 
the Middle English corresponding form in parenthesis. 




rise (rise) 

[risest] rist (rist, risest) 
[rise]?] rist (rist, riseth) 


f (riseth, risen, rise, rises) 

rise (rise) 
rise (rise) 
rise (rise) 

risen (risen, -e) 



















ris (rise) 

risan (risen) 

risende (risyng, 

I ris 

riseth, rise) 




Past Participle. 


ras (roos) 

rise (rise) 

risen (risen) 


rise (rise) 


ras (roos) 




Vrison (risen) 

risen (risen) 


27. Notes on the forms in Chaucer. 

(a) Present. The first person singular regularly ends in 
-e, but sometimes this -e is not sounded in the commonest 

The second person singular, by syncopation, often con 
tracts to -st. Thow farst, thow wenst. 

The third person singular regularly ended in -eth, as in the 
paradigm. Frequently this appears as -th only, as in comth, 
goth, etc. Even where the full -eth is written, it is some 
times not sounded as a syllable. Verbs with stems ending 
in -t, -d, -s, as riden, writen, sometimes contract to -t. So 
rit, stant, writ. 

The modern form (a northern dialect form in Chaucer's 
day) sometimes appears; he dwelles. 

The plural ending is regularly -en; sometimes occur the 
variants -eth, -es. 


(b) Preterite. Noteworthy is the second person singular 
form in -c; rise. The modern form in -est belongs generally 
in weak verbs after -ed. 

28. List of Strong Verbs. 

Class I. 

AS I a i i 

Chaucer i o i i 

shinen shoon shinen shinen 

Verbs: shyne, dryve, ryve, shryve, thryve, byte, slyte, 
smyte, wryte, byde, glyde, ryde, slyde, bistryde, wrythe, 
agryse, ryse, wrye, stryve (added from Old French). 

Class II. 

AS eo ea u o 

Chaucer e, u e o o 

Verbs: creepe, cleeve, brewe, fleete, sheete, beede, seethe, 
cheese, leese (with wk. pret. loste also), flye, lye, flee (also 
with weak pret. fledde), brouke, louke. 

Class III. 

AS i, e a u u, o 

Chaucer i, e o, a ou, o ou, o 

Verbs: swelle, helpe, yelpe, delve, yeelde, worthe, kerve, 
sterve, breste, thresshe, fighte, swimme, clymbe, biginne, 
blinne (brenne), (renne), spinne, winne, bynde, fynde, 
grynde, wynde, ringe, singe, springe, stinge, thringe, wringe, 
drinke, sinke, stinke, swinke. 

Brenne, renne are forms from Old Norse. Brenne is in 
flected in the weak conjugation. 

Class IV. 

AS e ae ae o 

Chaucer e a e, e o 

Verbs: stele, bere, shere, tere, come, nime, trede, breke, 
speke, wreke. Come, nome form sing. pret. in o; com, nom. 

Class V. 

AS e ae ae e 

Chaucer e, i a, e e e, i 

Verbs: yive, weve, etc, mete, gete, quethe, see, sitte, bidde, 
lye (lie down), weve, pp. woven; etc, pt. eet; (quethe), pt. 
quoth, quod; see, pt. saugh; sy, pp. seyen, sene, yseene. 


Class VI. 

AS a 6 6 a 

Chaucer a, a, e o o a, a, e, o 

Verbs: fare (pt. ferde < AS feran), swere (pp. sworen), 
shape, stape, grave, shave, heve (pt. haf), drawe, gnawe, 
stonde (stande), (pp. stonden). bake, forsake, shake, take 
(from Old Norse), wake, laughe, slee (pt. slough, slow; pp. 
slawen, slayn), waxe, wexe (pt. weex, wex, wax; pp. woxen), 
wasshe (pt. wessh). 

Class VII. 

Verbs which in early Germanic languages, e.g., Gothic, 
reduplicated the stem in the preterite, are called redupli 
cating verbs. Ex. Gothic haihald (held). 

AS a (or other vowel) e, eo a, etc. 

Chaucer a, etc. e, a, etc. (same vowel as in 

falle fell fallen present stem). 

walke welk walken 

Verbs: falle, holde, wolde, walke (also with wk. pret. 
walkede), fonge, honge, hote, blowe, knowe, crowe, sowe, 
throwe, sleepe (also wk. pret. slepte), wepe (wk. pret. also 
wepte), lete (pp. often laten), drede, rede, lepe (also wk. pret. 
lepte), hewe, bete, growe. 

29. Weak Verbs. Three classes of weak verbs existed in 
Anglo-Saxon. Note that in these the preterite plural is from 
the same stem as the singular. 

Class I. 






herien pret. herede 
demen demde 
byen bohte 




pp. gehered 

yhered hered 
ydemed demed 
ybouht bouht 

In herian the ending is -ian. In many Chaucerian verbs the 
-i disappears. Ex. derian, Ch. dere. 
In deman, the -ede of the preterite appears as -de. 


In bycgan, the stem-vowel changes. Ex.'selle, solde; telle, 
tolde; wirchen, worhte. Changes also occur in recche, 
strecche, teche, byen, thenken, bringe, wirchen, seche, seke. 

Class II. 

AS lufian lufode gelufod 

Chaucer love lovede loved 

Class III. 

AS libban lifde gelifd 

Chaucer live livede ylived, lived 

30. Inflections of weak verb. 

AS Ch. 

Pres. Sing. 1 deme deme 

2 demest demest, demst 

3 deme)? demeth 

Plur. demaj? demeth, demen 

Subj. sing, deme; pi. demen. 

Imper. deme (AS and Ch.); pi. demaK Ch. demeth. 

Infinitive deman, Ch. demen. 

Participle demende, Ch. demyng. 

AS Ch. 

Pret. Sing. 1 demde demde, demede 

2 demdest demdest 

3 demde demde 

Plur. demdon demden, demeden 

Subj. sing, demde, pi. demden. 

(AS and Ch.) 
Past participle gedemed, Ch. ydemed, demed. 

In Chaucer, usually, the syncopated forms in -de are pre 
ferred to the full forms in -ede. Ex. felte for felede. Verbs 
in -ede, as demede, semede, are the exception rather than 
the rule in the weak preterites. 

31. Preterite-present class. A few verbs in Anglo-Saxon, 
originally perfects, came to acquire a present meaning. In 
some cases it is easy to see how this happened, since wat, 
I know, implies I have seen, or have learned. In the present 
these verbs belong to the strong conjugation, except for the 



second person singular, which belongs to the singular stem, 
and adds -t. These verbs added a new weak preterite, an 
infinitive, present participle, and in a few verbs a strong past 

I Class of strong verbs. AS wat, Chaucer wot. 

III Class, AS can, J?earf, dear, Chaucer can, dar, thar. 

IV Class, AS sceal, Chaucer shal. 

V Class, AS maeg, Chaucer may. 

VI Class, AS mot, Chaucer mot 

VII Class, AS ag, ah, Chaucer owe. 

32. The inflections of these verbs in Chaucer follows. 



sing. 1, 3 

sing. 2 pi. 


wot, woot 

wost wite, wote 
kanst konne 










thar (impers. 

w. ace.) 

hym thar 



shal, shul 




may, mowe 

may, mowe 

mot, moot 


mote, moten 


him oweth 


sing. 1, 3 

sing. 2 

wiste wistest 

koude, kowde koudest 


dorste dorstest dorste 


sholde, shulde sholdest sholde(n) 

myghte myghtest myghten 

moste, must(e) mosten 

oghte, oughte oughtestow oughten 

(usually impers. with 

all numbers and 









most, moste 




33. Special Verbs. Be, wil, don, gon, and have. 

Pres. Sing. 1 


wil, wyl 


art, artow 

wilt, wylt 





be, ben 

wol, wole 

Subj. Pres. 

be, pi. be, ben 



Pret. Sing. 1 











wolde, wolden 

Pret. Subj. 



wolde, wolden 




Pres. part. 


Past. part. 



be, ben 

Pres. Sing. 1 
















Subj. Pres. 




do, don 

go, gon 

Pret. Sing. 1 

dide, dyde dede 



didest, dedest 



dide, etc. 





Pret. Subj. 

dide, dede 


dede, deden 





haveth, hath 

Pres. part. 




Past. part. 

idon, ydon, don 

go, goon 

ihad, had 


do, don 


have, ha 

III. Notes on Special Usages. 

34. Nouns. Certain expressions, which we should call 
adverbial, preserve old uses of the oblique cases. The geni 
tive is found in his thonkes (thanks to his own efforts), the 
old dative form in time constructions, his lyve (during all his 


life), and the accusative of time is more common than now 
this yere, this pestilence. 

35. Adjectives. The substantival use is common; this 
goodly fre (lady understood); chaunge for no newe; the 
grete (greater part). For the usage of such forms as oon, 
oonly, see the Glossary. 

36. Prepositions. Many verbs in Chaucer take preposi 
tions in uses which are now obsolete. Cf. on reste, on eve, 
of a purpos. Some prepositions, which now appear at the 
clause-end, follow the verb; to hele with your hurtes. Others 
sometimes follow their object; wente hir fro. The construc 
tions to wedde (for a pledge), to wyve, etc., represent an old 
dative construction. The preposition with is almost impre 
catory; with sory grace! ("bad luck to him"). 

37. Adverbs. An important difference between Chaucer's 
use of adverbs and ours lies in the repetition of a negative 
idea for emphasis where to us it appears redundant or, 
according to some, contradictory. 

He never yet no vileynye ne sayde 
In al his lyf, unto no maner wyght. 
She nas hir doghter nat. 

Conjunctions. The conjunction as appears in poetry in 
innumerable cases where it is untranslatable, with a vague 
enclitic and expletive force, slightly restrictive usually, mean 
ing "considering," "that is to say." 

And borne hym wel, as of so lytel space 
In hope to stonden in his lady grace. 

38. Pronouns. A verb may agree with the pronoun in 
apposition; hit am I. 

The greater use of the impersonal verbs causes greater use 
of the dative (objective) forms of the pronouns. Wel was 
him, us lyketh, hem thynketh wel. What nedeth yow? 
Similar constructions employed the reflexive forms fre 
quently. Thou is used in familiar, hostile, or in prayerful 
discourse; ye is used for the singular second person in forms 
of courtesy. Where no especial person is addressed the 
singular may be found; Ther maystow seen devysyng of 
herneys. The distinction is clear, if we compare the respect 
ful address of the captured Cok to the Fox, CT. B 4595 (ye) 
with his scornful words upon escape immediately thereafter 


(thou, thow, thy). He sometimes appears as Lat. ille; he 
Jakke Straw ("The famous JS."). 

39. Verbs. The subjunctive was very common in Chau 
cer's day, and was used not merely for conditional clauses, 
but almost all other subordinate relations, as time, concession, 
desire, and command. I deme anon this clerk his servaunt 

Intransitive verbs frequently used a perfect form with the 
verb be instead of the simple past, or the perfect with have. 
This Piramus is come. This usage is most common with 
verbs of motion. Compare the modern "Is he gone?" 

The perfect participle in the predicate after do, make, is 
seen in such constructions as Thise merchauntz han doon 
fraught hir shippis. Compare also He leet do make a temple. 

IV. Meter. 

40. Chaucer employed, except in a few specimens, the 
eight-syllable or ten-syllable iambic line. The former he 
employed almost exclusively in the short couplet, the latter 
in the heroic couplet or in ballade. Ballade, sometimes called 
also ballade royal or rime royal, is so named from its use in 
the French balades. These had stanzas of seven or eight 
lines. The rime-scheme of the former was ababbcc, of the 
latter ababbcbc. The typical ballade had three stanzas with 
common rimes and refrain and an envoy of five or six lines. 

41. Description of the other types of verse, since the 
specimens are so few, is not needed here. The reader will 
not fail to observe the tail-rime stanzas of Sir Thopas, and 
the fantastic strophes of the Anelida, as well as the terza rima 
of the Complcint, and the roundels of Merciles Beaute. 

42. The attempt has been made to consider Chaucer's 
line apart from the use of other poets, and to enter into much 
detail on the peculiar usages of his verse. When all has been 
said, however, it remains true that but a single form of his 
usage is rare among English poets. This is the nine-syllable 
line; Gynglyng in a whistlyng wynde as clere. Where, else 
where, there appear a wrong number of syllables in the line, 
the reader will find that by applying the practices of other 
poets, or in the apocope, syncope, or elision of final weak -e, 
the apparent difficulty will disappear. Particularly at the 
caesura this treatment of -e will dispose of most of the cases 


known as the extra-syllable. Final -e at the end of the line, 
of course, counts as in Dante's verse as a feminine ending. 

V. Chaucer's Life. 

43. Chaucer's life was spent in service at court. Recent 
study has proved that the facts we possess concerning his 
life chiefly records of payment show only that his service 
was faithful and well rewarded; that he rose steadily in 
fortune and regard; and that he died a prosperous, successful 
man. His career in the royal household was like that of 
others in similar positions. Nothing in the long list of entries 
in the records of his life is out of the ordinary life of the 
court-attendant; nor is it established that Chaucer's literary 
genius furthered his worldly welfare. Shakespeare's success 
as actor and manager, and our meager information about his 
literary life, are curiously paralleled by what we know of 
the career of our greatest English mediaeval poet. 

44. Birth and Death. The dates of Chaucer's birth and 
death are uncertain. The years 1340-1344 may be given as 
limits for the former, however. October 25, 1400, is the 
traditional date of his death. The year is almost certainly 
correct. He was buried in Westminster Abbey; and around 
his tomb sprang up, long afterwards, the famous Poets' Corner. 

45. Parentage. John Chaucer, Geoffrey Chaucer's father, 
was a London wine-merchant. He owned a brew-house, 
shops, etc., without Aldgate. His family may have been 
originally of Norfolk stock. Following what seems to have 
been a practice of prosperous merchants, he was able to 
obtain for his son a position as page in a royal household. 
Doubtless his personal services to Edward III, of which 
there is some record, gained him this favor. 

46. Early Life. We know nothing of Chaucer's educa 
tion. His name first appears May 20, 1357, in the household 
accounts of Elizabeth, Countess of Clarence, whose husband, 
Lionel, was a younger son of the king. In 1359, while in 
France during the invasion of that country, Chaucer was one 
of her household to be ransomed from captivity. Of his 
capture we know nothing. In 1360, still in service with the 
Countess or Duke Lionel, he was a bearer of messages 
between the young commander at Calais and his father, 
Edward III, in London. His further promotion was due, no 
doubt, to well-earned popularity. A pleasant passage in The 


Knyghtes Tale (A 1426-40) offers an interesting: parallel, all the 
more valuable because the source of the poem, Boccaccio's 
Teseide, contains no hint of these lines. They may well be 
taken as a reminiscence of Chaucer's early days at court. 

A yeer or two he was in this servyse 

Page of the chambre of Emelye the brighte; 

And Philostrate lie seyde that he highte. 

But half so wel biloved a man as he 

Ne was ther nevere in court, of his degree ; 

He was so gentil of condicioun 

That thurghout al the court was his renoun. 

They seyden, that it were a charitee, 

That Theseus wolde enhaunsen his degree, 

And putten hym in worshipful servyse 

Ther as he myghte his vertu exercise. 

And thus withinne a while his name is spronge 

Bothe of hise dedes and his goode tonge, 

That Theseus hath taken hym so neer 

That of his chambre he made hym a Squier, 

And gaf hym gold to mayntene his degree. 

47. Missions in the King's Service. In 1367, when Chau 
cer's name next appears, we find him newly established in 
the king's own household; a promotion which appears natural 
and not uncommon. His title was at first "vallettus," after 
wards "esquier" (or in Latin "scutifer" and "armiger"). The 
class of squires to which Chaucer belonged can best be com 
pared to secretaries, in our day and land. They acted for 
the king in the purchase of supplies, in managing the house 
hold, and in bearing messages of importance. Often during 
the wars they served abroad in the army. Thus in 1369 
Chaucer was in France, with many others of the king's house 
hold. Other particular services, with dates, follow. 

1370. Dispatches to France. 

1372-1373. Secret service to Italy (Genoa and Florence), 
probably in connection with trade alliances. 

1376. Secret service abroad, with Sir John de Burley, who 
had been Captain of Calais. 

1377. Missions to Flanders and France, on a secret treaty 
with France. In these Chaucer was a subordinate, but 
apparently a trusted one. 

1378. Missions for the young king, Richard II, who had 
succeeded his grandfather, Edward III, in 1377, to France 
and to Lombardy. The latter embassy was sent to Barnabo 
Visconti, Lord of Milan, for assistance in his wars. 


48. Rewards. The squires of the King's household 
received a regular wage, sevenpence halfpenny a day. In 
addition, however, they were given such benefits as it was 
in the King's power to grant, such as annuities, grants of 
land, grants of office, the custody of lands belonging to heirs 
under age, and other valuable favors. Chaucer's rewards 
were apparently like those of other squires, some of whom 
received more, some less. His rewards follow. 

1367. Yearly pension of 20 marks (13 6s. 8d.). 
1374. Pitcher of wine daily, from the king. 

1374. Controllership of Customs and Subsidy of Wools, 
skins, and leather for the Port of London. This was ended 
in 1386. 

1375. Custody of lands and person of Edmund Staplegate, 
of Kent. 

1376. Grant of fine paid by John Kent for smuggling. 
1382. Controllership of Petty Customs, Port of London. 

This was ended in 1386. 

1385. Justice of the Peace for Kent. 

1386. Knight of the Shire for Kent, and thus a member of 

1389. Clerk of the King's Works at Westminster. 

1390. Clerk of the King's Works at Windsor. These offices 
probably involved superintendency of repairs and alterations. 

1390. Commission to repair the banks of the Thames 
between Woolwich and Greenwich. In this year Chaucer 
erected the royal scaffolds grandstands for a tournament 
in Smithfield. He was also appointed joint forester of North 
Petherton Park. 

1394. Grant of 20 annually for life. 

1398. Sole Forester of North Petherton Park. 

1399. Henry IV, crowned September, 1399, granted Chau 
cer 40 marks (26 13s. 4d.) annuity, in addition to the 20 
annuity, which was confirmed. 

All these rewards Chaucer owed, officially at least, directly 
to the King. His loss of the customs positions in 1386 may have 
been merely a resignation, and cannot be held to argue loss of 
fortune or royal favor. No doubt, in his twelve years of office, 
Chaucer's shrewdness and ability to deal with all sorts of people 
had brought him a considerable fortune. He must have become 
a landholder of some consequence in Kent to have been 
appointed Justice of the Peace for that shire. To the end of 


his life, so far as we have any right to judge, Chaucer appears 
to have steadily advanced in purse and reputation; and 
although a few records show Chaucer borrowing money, or 
sued for debt, yet he was probably no more hard pressed for 
that commodity than the King's exchequer. 

49. Marriage, and Life in London and Greenwich. 
Squires of the royal household, as was natural, often married 
ladies-in-waiting. Probably before 1366, Chaucer married 
Philippa, generally believed to be Philippa Roet, Lady of 
the Chamber to Queen Philippa. She was the sister of 
Catherine Swynford, mistress and afterwards wife of John 
of Gaunt, of whose infant children she had been governess. 
In 1372 Philippa received a small grant from John of Gaunt, 
and in 1374, with her husband, a further grant of 10 yearly. 
In the latter grant Chaucer's services to the Duke are also 
referred to, but it is likely that the whole grant was intended 
for the service of Philippa. Chaucer had written The Boke 
of the Duchesse in 1369 as a memorial of John of Gaunt's 
first wife, but the poem does not appear to have brought any 
immediate reward; nor does the traditional theory of John 
of Gaunt's patronage of Chaucer have any strong foundation. 
Still, in 1386, the Duke was present at a ceremony in Lincoln, 
when Philippa was admitted as a lay-member of the Cathedral 

Chaucer lived in 1374 in the dwelling-house above the gate 
of Aldgate. About 1386 he went to live in Greenwich; 
and shortly before the end of his life he leased a residence at 

Of his married life we know nothing; less even than of 
Shakespeare's. His wife died about 1387. Thomas Chaucer, 
whose relationship to the poet is almost beyond dispute, 
appears to have been the only child to gain distinction. He 
was chief butler to Richard II, before Geoffrey died. A 
"litel sone Lowis," for whom Chaucer prepared his Astrolabe, 
is not mentioned elsewhere. 

Cecilia Chaumpaigne, in 1380, released Chaucer from all 
liability "de raptu meo." The exact nature of the charge we 
have no means of knowing; it is likely that it was merely 
a civil suit, and that Chaucer was only one of a number 
involved. In September, 1390, Chaucer was robbed twice, 
near the Foul Oak in Kent, while traveling on business of 
his office, and some of the King's money was taken from 


50. Chaucer's Friends. With his excellent opportunities 
and the amiable character which we observe in his writings, 
it would have been strange if Chaucer had not had a wide 
circle of friends. As a member of the King's household he 
doubtless felt it wrong to mix in the politics of the great 
lords, or the religious or social quarrels of his time. His 
associates, at any rate, are drawn from both of the chief 
conflicting parties. John Gower, the poet, author of Con- 
fessio Amantis, was an unsparing critic of Richard II and 
of the clergy. Chaucer dedicated his Troilus to him and to 
Ralph Strode, Fellow of Merton College, Oxford, and an 
opponent of Wycliffe. Chaucer also left Gower as his attor 
ney upon his departure for France in 1378. Henry Scogan, i 
to whom Chaucer addressed an Envoy, was tutor to King 
Henry IV's sons, and had previously been in Richard's ser 
vice. Otes de Graunson, from whose French verses Chaucer 
translated his Compleynt of Venus, was a knight of Savoy 
in the service of John of Gaunt. Robert de Bukton, to whom 
(probably) Chaucer addressed an Envoy, was a squire of 
Queen Anne's household, in Richard II's court. Eustache 
Deschamps, a contemporary poet of France, who served, like 
Chaucer, at his King's court, sent to his English rival in 
poetry a copy of his poems, with a ballade addressed to tvji 
"Grant translateur, noble Geffroy Chaucier." Deschamps' 
poems had great influence upon Chaucer. Deschamps' 
friend, Lewis Clifford, who bore the poems to England, was 
an opponent of John of Gaunt, but with Lollard leanings. 

Other prominent men with whom Chaucer had relations 
were Lord William de Beauchamp, a son of the Earl of 
Warwick, and Thomas de Percy, a brother of the Earl of 

Of Chaucer's acquaintance in Italy we know nothing. He 
may have met Boccaccio and Petrarch, or he may not. At 
all events, he had time in a four-months' stay to make some 
Italian friendships. 

VI. Dates of Chaucer's Works. 

51. None of Chaucer's writings is definitely dated. All de 
pend upon more or less uncertain inferences from style, source 
or allusions to contemporary events. It is a curious fact, tha' 
while the poet tells Scogan that while he was young, he pu 
his pen "forth in press," yet only one poem, the Boke of tht 


Duchesse, can be dated with certainty before his thirty-fifth 
year, and most of his extant work lies between the years of 
forty-five and sixty. Much, evidently, has been lost. 

1369-1370. Boke of the Duchesse. Blanche, Duchess of Lan 
caster, died in the autumn of 1369. 

1377-1381. Translation of Bocthius. 

1381. Parlement of Foules, celebrating the betrothal of 
Richard II and Anne of Bohemia, in 1381. 

1380-1385. Troilus and Criseyde. 

1386-1387. Legend of Good Women. Second Prologue (A- 
version) somewhat later (1394-95, according to Tatlock). 

1391-1392. Treatise on the Astrolabe. 

1387-1400. The Canterbury Tales. Of these the Knight es 
Tale (under the name of Palemon and Arcite}, the Lyf of Seynt 
Cecilie, and perhaps other parts, were written earlier. The invo 
cation in St. Cecilie has been placed at 1385, the rest of the 
Seconde Nonnes Tale earlier. 

1396. Lenvoy to Bukton. If addressed to Robert Bukton, as 
is probable, then just at his marriage before January, d397. 

1399. Compleynt to his Purse. Addressed to Henry IV, as 
"conquerour" of England. Henry was crowned in 1399. 

52. The other works have only vague and general evidence 
for date. Early work probably includes Chaucer's A B C, a 
translation, Origenes upon the Maudeleyne, Boke of the Leoun 
(lost), Compleynt of Mars, complaints, roundels, etc. The Hous 
of Fame and Anelida have been placed between 1380 and 1385. 
Late work includes probably a translation of Pope Innocent's 
De Contemptu Mundi, Fortune, Lak of Stedfastnesse, Envoy to 
Scogan, Compleynt of Venus and The Former Age. Last of all, 
according to the sentimental tradition supported by early scribes, 
came Trouthe, "written on his death-bed." 

VII. Chaucer's Reading. 

53. Chaucer's works present to us a writer familiar with the 
best reading accessible in his age. There is little phenomenal or 
surprising in the great number of authors cited by Chaucer, 
whose names and works appear in the glossarial-index. More 
over, many of the ancient writers Chaucer knew probably from 
the excerpts quoted in Florilegia, or mediaeval encyclopaedias. 
His wide acquaintance with the great French poets of his day 
was a natural thing, since for centuries French literature had 


been a model for English poets. His admiration for Dante, 
Petrarch and Boccaccio, however, marks the first influence of 
Italian literature upon our own. 

54. Two works, the Roman de la Rose, of the thirteenth 
century, and Boethius' treatise De Consolatione Philosophies, of 
the sixth century, had the strongest hold upon Chaucer's thought 
and imagination. He published translations of both, and the 
worldly wisdom of the one and the spiritual wisdom of the other 
appear upon every page ei his writings. 

55. Next to these in influence come Guillaume Machault 
(fl. 1350), and Eustache Deschamps and Jehan Froissart, whose 
work was contemporary with his own. Their poems of courtly 
love, in the fiction of which the poet falls asleep and dreams a 
love-adventure, had become a definite literary type. Chaucer's 
own vision-poems, The Parlement of Foules, Boke of the 
Duchesse, Prologue to the Legend of Good Women and The 
Hous of Fame, were the result of his study of French models. 
The Hous of Fame was perhaps intended to serve as prologue to 
some collection of tales; but it was never finished. 

56. Of the Italians, Boccaccio was most influential. His 
Teseide is the source of The Knightes Tale; his Filostrato and 
Filocolo the chief sources of Troilus and Criseyde, though 
Chaucer nowhere acknowledges these debts. Boccaccio's tale of 
Griselda, translated by Petrarch from the Decameron into Latin, 
reached Chaucer in the later form. Other works by him may 
possibly have influenced the English poet. A sonnet of Petrarch's 
found its way into some stanzas of the Troilus, and some lines 
from Dante's Divina Commedia into the Invocation of the 
Seconde Nonnes Tale. It is now thought probable, also, that 
Chaucer's scheme of the pilgrimage with tales by the pilgrims, 
was the result of reading similar arrangements of tales by Italian 
authors, especially the Novelle of Giovanni Sercambi (1347- 

57. Of the Latin authors of the classical age Chaucer, like 
other mediaeval readers, knew no Greek our poet was acquainted 
with Virgil, Ovid (the chief source of the Legend of Good 
Women}, Livy, Lucan, Claudian, and Maximian. The mediaeval 
encyclopaedists, and especially the writers in Latin of the twelfth 
to fourteenth centuries, furnished him with most of his varied 
knowledge of medicine, alchemy, precious stones, astronomy, 
history, biography, morals and religion. The Tale of the Man 
of Lawe, Melibee and the Persones Tale were versions of narra- 


tives from Latin sources. The Church Fathers, especially 
Augustine and Jerome, were part of the reading of good 

58. French fabliaux furnished Chaucer with the plots of the 
tales of the Miller, Reeve, Shipman, Pardoner, Wife of Bath, 
Summoncr, Merchant and Manciple. A Breton lay, in a French 
form, may have suggested the Frankeleyns Tale ; and the Nonne 
Preestes Tale of the Cock and Fox was a chapter of the bour 
geois mock-heroic epic, Lc Roman de Renart. 

Chaucer's achievement, however, lay not in the introduction 
of foreign matter and manner into English literature, nor in the 
number and variety of the books he read, but in his perfect 
assimilation of their thought, and in the wholly original impress 
with which every line of his poems is stamped, 

VIII. The Human Comedy of the Canterbury Tales. 

59. On the sixteenth of April, 13 , Chaucer and the other 
twenty-eight pilgrims gathered at the Tabard Inn in Southwark. 
The next morning they agreed to the Host's proposal of two 
tales by each pilgrim, both on the outward and the homeward 
way, the winner to have a dinner as a prize the best prize of 
which Mine Host Harry Bailey could dream. At St. Thomas a 
Waterings the cuts were drawn, and the lot fell upon the 
knight not by accident, if we know the admirable Host aright. 
Precedence at the high table in his inn had taught him somewhat. 

At the conclusion of the Knight's tale, Mine Host proceeded 
as courtesy asked, to invite the Monk to tell his tale. But the 
rules of courtesy, it seemed, must be laid aside. Drunken Robin, 
the Miller, has a tale of a carpenter to say, which vexes a little 
good Oswald the Reeve, and just by Deptford and Greenwich 
he retorts with the most famous tale of a miller that ever was 
known. Hodge of Ware, the London Cook, thought so at least, 
and with a threat of a tale of a landlord ere the pilgrimage were 
done, began a tale of an apprentice of London. This Chaucer 
never finished ; and so ends all that was planned of the first day's 
stories (Group A). 

About ten o'clock, after leaving Dartford, Mine Host called 
upon the Man of Lawe. He responded nobly; and the Host 
would have followed up the godly story with something more 
of the serious, had not the Parson objected so strenuously to 
the profanity of landlord Harry. The Shipman rudely broke 


in with a ribald narrative, which greatly delighted master Bailey. 
Nevertheless, pursuing his rule of inviting the better class first, 
he called upon Madame Eglantine the Prioresse. So sober was 
her tale, that Mine Host, in desperation to relieve the tension, 
sought out Chaucer, who had been a source of considerable 
speculation to the worthy student of mankind at inns. A poet 
came his way but seldom. Alas! the poet played him a scurvy 
trick with his ryme of Sir Thopas; and Mine Host got such 
relief that his ears ached. In revenge for being stopped, Chaucer 
next told a long tale in prose about patience, to the great edifi 
cation of all. Mine Host wishes his wife might have heard it, 
for patience had never been her chief virtue. Now all was clear, 
and with the inevitability which comes to those who deal with 
ranks and classes, the Host succeeded, as they came in sight of 
Rochester, in getting Sir Piers the Monk to tell his melancholy 
long list of "tragedies." At last the pilgrims murmured, and 
the Knight, speaking for all, ventured to interrupt the Monk. 
Greatly relieved at this outcome, and grateful that the inter 
ruption of a gentle had not been forced upon him, Mine Host 
turned, after the Monk's rebuff, to Sir John, the Nuns' Priest, 
and won the crown of the Tales, that of the Cock and Fox. 
Thus, scarcely outside Rochester, ended the second day (Group 

Next day, between Rochester and Sittingbourne, came the 
Physician with his sad story of Virginia, which almost broke 
Harry Bailey's heart. The jolly Pardoner rescued him with 
his bold and shameless self-revelation, and, indeed, so deeply 
impressed the Host a little later with his magnificent sermon 
against avarice, that for a moment the Pardoner really thought 
his confession had been forgotten. But Mine Host was not to 
be caught, and took refuge in abuse. Shortly afterwards, for 
they were still far from Sittingbourne, the Wife of Bath, Dame 
Alice, began the immortal discussion of the married state with 
her statement of her creed. Virginity for others, not for her. 
She will have a husband, and sovereignty as well. Friar Hubert, 
who had been somewhat ill at ease under the preachments of one 
whose sex had furnished the bulk of his own congregations, 
interrupted once during her recital, and again after her Tale, 
to the great disgust of the Summoner, his rival in ecclesiastical 
rascality. High words ensued, and it was not to be wondered at 
that their tales should have been virulent attacks upon each other, 
and furnished a highly comic interlude to the rest (Groups C- 


After luncheon at Sittingbourne, we may imagine the Host 
turning once more to his beloved gentles for a story-teller. He 
fixed upon the Clerk of Oxford, who had in silence been rumi 
nating upon the sermon and creed of Dame Alice of Bath. His 
tale of Griselda, though the point was not at first apparent, was 
his own grave and yet mocking answer to the philosophy of the 
Wife. Griselda's patience, however, touched by contrast a very 
sore spot in the breast of the Merchant, and the Host begged 
him to continue the discussion. This he did, in the utter dis 
credit and slander of the fair sex. In their defence, Mine Host 
next called upon the Squire to speak of love, which as yet had 
scarcely been mentioned. This point Chaucer himself did not 
finish, for the Squire's tale is left half-told. The Franklin, how 
ever, was greatly pleased with the nobility of the young Squire, 
being all the more reminded of it by the want of gentlemanly 
breeding in his own son. Upon Mine Host's urging, he concludes 
the discussion of marriage by a tale in which both love and mar 
riage are exalted, but honour more than all, a most worthy con 
clusion. Thus the pilgrims reach Ospringe, upon the end of 
their third day (Groups E-F). 

On the fourth day, the Second Nun tells her tale of St. Cecilia, 
and the pilgrims are overtaken at Boughton by the alchemy-mad 
Canon and his Yeoman. The Host, ever curious as to the 
humours of mankind, engages the Yeoman in conversation, and 
learns more than the Canon cares to have known about his 
practices. The Canon flees away for very shame, and as they 
pass Blean Forest the Yeoman tells a tale of trickery in trans 
mutation. Not long afterwards, they come in sight of Bob-up- 
and-down, or Harbledown, only a couple of miles out of Canter 
bury, and the drunken Cook falls off his horse. The Manciple 
mocks him, but retracts upon second thought, and placates the 
Cook with wine from his own gourd. His Tale of a tattling 
crow brings the pilgrims into Canterbury, and at its close Mine 
Host calls upon the Parson to wind all up with a godly dis 
course. With the Host's excellent injunction to be "fructuous, 
and that in lytel space," he begins his discourse upon Penitence, 
and the Comedy of the leisurely Canterbury Pilgrims comes to 
an end (Groups G-I). 

NOTE. The above summary gives a more complete unity to 
the groups of extant Tales than perhaps ever really existed. In 
the Prologue, the reader will observe Chaucer planned for two 
tales each way by each pilgrim, but less than one-fifth were 


provided, and the connecting "links" leave nine separate groups 
of Tales (Groups A-I), the exact order of which is still a dis 
puted matter. The order of the Ellesmere MS., for example, is 
held by Koch to be best. It arranges the Groups thus: A, B 
(through Man of Laws), D, E, F, C, (rest of) B, G, H, I. 



Names, and in some cases notes on special words, are 
included in the following pages. Such etymologies as are 
needed for proper understanding of the Middle English 
forms are also included; but the etymologies are not 
intended to be complete guides to the early history of words, 
where the development of the form may be easily guessed. 

The student should remember the frequent interchange of 
"a" and "aa," "i" and "y," "e" and "ee," "o" and "oo" in 
referring to words. 

References to the selections are designated as follows: in 
the order printed, 

A, B, C, etc., to I, refer to the Ro 

groups of the Canter- Tr 

bury Tales Gent 

Pi Compleint unto Pite LS 

Du Book of the Duchesse Sc 

Cm Compleint of Mars Bu 

Pf Parlement of Foules CV 

L Legend of Good Women P 

CL Compleynt to his Lady Pr 

An Anelida and Arcite AgW 

Ad Adam Scrivener 

Fa Former Age Wn 

Fo Fortune As 

MB Merciless Beaute 

To Rosemounde 

Lak of Stedfastnesse 
Envoy to Scogan 
Envoy to Bukton 
Compleint of Venus 
To his Purse 

Against Women Incon 

Wommanly Noblesse 

The following are the chief abbreviations used: 


















circa, about (dates) 


according to W. W. Skeat 












verb, verbal 




derived from 




first, second and third per 





























present participle 




















past participle 


Low German 




Middle English 




Old French 




Old Norse 


past tense 




which see 




a an art. a AS an (n before cons. 

dropped after 1200) 
a inf. have (through slurring) 

ME haven, nan 

a interj. ah! Oh! ME, OF a 
a prep. in, on, for; a certain 

years] for a space of years; a 

twenty winter] twenty years; a 

Goddes half] for God's sake; a 

wordes few] in few words; a 

three] in three;' a-nyght] at 

night ; a-morwe] on the morrow ; 

AS on 

abak: backwards AS onbaec 
abashat, abasshed pp. abashed, 

disconcerted OF esbair, pres. 

stem esbaiss- 
abawed pp. disconcerted OF 

abaubir "stammer," influenced by 

abayst pp. abashed, disconcerted ; 

cf. abashat 

abesse: abbess F abbesse 
abedde : abed AS on bedde 
a-begged: a-begging ME a(on) + 

beggeth, analogy with AS huntatS 


abeye inf. pay for AS abycgan 
abhomynable : horrible, vile OF 


abhomynacions : abominations OF. 
abilite: ability OF. 
abode, pt. s. expected ; cf. abyde 
abood sb. delay vb. sb. from pt. 

of AS abldan 
aboughte 3 pt. s. bought, atoned 

for ; abought, pp. ; aboght pp. ; 

cf. abye 

about prep, about ; aboute 
aboute ad. around AS abutan 
aboven: above AS abufan 
Abraham : Hebrew patriarch ; cf. 

a-brayede pt. s. awoke AS 

abregge inf. abridge OF abregier, 

abroche inf. broach, open (a 

cask) ME on + OF broche 

abrood: wide open ME on + AS 

brad, ME brod 

Absalon: Absalom, son of David, 
famous for beauty 

absolucioun: absolution OF, 

abusioun: illusion OF. 

abyden inf. wait for; abyd imp. 
AS abldan 

abyen inf. pay for, suffer, atone 
for, abide AS abycgan 

abyte: habit, dress OF habit 

a-caterwawed : caterwauling ; cf. 
a-begged ME on -f- cat + wawe 

accident: the outward appearance 
or phenomenon of a thing, as 
opposed to the thing (substance) 
itself, in allusion to the dispute 
between Realists and Nominalists 
(Sk.) C 539; unusual appearance, 
E 607; OF. 

accomplice inf. accomplish OF 
accomplir, pr. part, accompliss- 

accord sb. agreement, decision 
OF acorde 

accordant: suitable OF. 

accorde 3 pr. pi. agree OF acorder 

achaat sb. buying OF. 

achatours: purchasing agents OF 
achateor, achetour 

Acheloys gen. Achelous, river-god, 
took form of a bull in wrestling 
with Hercules 

Achetofel: Ahithophel, adviser of 
David, and afterward adviser of 
Absalom against David ; cf. 2 
Samuel xvii. Dryden uses the 
form Achitophel in his Absalom 
and Achitophel 

Achilles: the greatest warrior 
among the Greeks at Troy. To 
avenge the death of his friend 
Patroclus he slew Hector and 
dragged his body thrice around 
the walls of Troy. Later he was 
lured to the temple of Apollo in 
Troy by the promise of marriage 
to Polyxena, daughter of Priam, 
and was there attacked by Paris 
and a band of men and slain, 
together with his friend Archilo- 
chus. This story of his death 
comes from Benoit de Sainte- 
Maure and Guido delle Colonne 

acloyith: cloys, loads up OF 




a-compas: in a circle ME on + F 

acordaunt a. in accord with ; 

acordaunt to resoun] reasonable, 

proper OF. 
acorde sb. accord; al of oon 

acorde] in harmony OF. 
acorden 3 pr. pi. agree; acorded 

3 pt. s. was fitting ; acordeden 

3 pt. pi. ; acorded pp. OF 


acounte: take count of OF aconter 
acquite inf. acquit oneself; 

acquiteth 2 pi. imp. OF aquiter 
actes pi. deeds OF acte 
acusour: informer OF acuseor 
acustumaunce : habit OF acous- 


adamant: adamant, fabulous mate 
rial of extreme strength ; ada- 

mauntis pi. magnets OF. 
Adoon : Adonis, Grecian youth be 
loved by Venus A 2224 
adoun: down, downwards; adoune : 

AS of + dune dat. dun "hill, 

adrad pp. afraid, fearful AS 


Adriane : Ariadne, beloved of The 
seus and Bacchu3 
Adromacha: Andromache, wife of 

adversaria : adversary Lat adversa- 

rius F adversaire 
adversitee, adversyte : misfortune, 

adversity OF. 
advertence: attention OF. 
advocat: advocate; advocatz pi. 

(the t is mute) OF avocat 
a-fer: afar ME on + fer 
aferd, afered, aferid pp. afraid 

AS afjeran 
affeccioun of hoolynesse : love for 

a divine nature OF affection 
affermeth 3 pr. s. affirms; affermed 

pp. OF afermer 
affile inf. smooth OF afiler 
affray, afraye sb. fright, terror 

OF esfrei 
affrayed pp. frightened OF es- 


Affrik: Africa 

Affrikan, Affrycan: cf. Scipioun 
afounde: founder, sink OF afonder 

afraye sb. dread; cf. affray 

afright pp. frightened AS afyrht 

after prep, to get, for, according 
to; after oon] alike, equal AS 

aftir: cf. after 

aftyr as: according as 

agame: in sport ME on + game 

agaste 3 pt. s. refl. was aghast; 
agaste, agast pp. frightened 
AS agSstan 

Agaton : Agatho, perhaps an Athe 
nian poet mentioned by Aris 
totle as author of play called 
"The Flower" (Gary and Skeat) 

agayn, agaynes, agayns ad. again; 
prep, against, towards, to meet 
AS ongegn, ongeanes 

agaynward: back again 

agen: again 

Agenores poss. Agenor's daughter, 
Europa, was carried off by Jupi 
ter, who had taken the form of a 

ageyn: again, in reply 

ageynist: against, before 

agiltyn inf. commit wrong ; agilte 
3 pt. pi. were at fault AS 

ago, agon, agoo, agoon pp. gone 
AS agan "pass away" 

a-gref ad. ill ME on + OF grief 

agreved pp. angry OF agrever 

agrief: in ill humor 

agryse inf. dread, tremble with 

fear; agryse of] shudder at C 280; 
AS agrisan 

agu: ague OF ague f. of agu 

aiel: grandfather OF aiol, aiuel 

ake inf. ache; aken 3 pr. pi. AS 

aketoun: short stuffed jacket OF 

al a. all; al a] the whole of; al 
and sum] the whole ; al ad. all, 
completely ; al be, al conj. al 
though ; al redy : all ready AS 
eal pi. ealle 

al sb. awl, prick AS xl 

al outerly : utterly 

alabastre: alabaster OF. 

alauntz pi. wolf (?) -hounds OF 
alan, alant 

alayes: alloy OF alei 





Alcebiades: Alcibiades, Athenian 
commander in the Peloponnesian 
war, famous for his beauty and 

Alceste: queen of Admetus, king 
of Thessaly, went to Hades as a 
substitute for her husband 

Alcipyades : cf. Alcebiades 

Alcyone: Alcyone, or Halcyone, 
who for grief at the death of 
her husband, Ceyx, threw herself 
into the sea. The gods in pity 
changed them to birds, king 

alday : continually, all day 

alder poss. pi. of all; our alder] 
of us all AS ealre 

alderbeste ad. best of all 

alderfayrest : the very fairest 

alderfirst: first of all 

alderman sb. head of a guild AS 

Aldiran: Aldiran, a star in Leo 

aldirnex : next of all 

ale-stake : stake from which hung 
branch of ivy, etc., the "bush," 
as sign of an ale-house AS ealu 
n. + staca m. 

aleye: alley OF alee 

Aleyn: Alain de 1'Isle, saec. xii, 
wrote "De Planctu Naturae," a 
treatise in prose and verse, and 
"Anticlaudianus," defending celi 

Algarsyf: son of Cambynskan 

algate, algates, algatis ad. in every 
way, always, at least, neverthe 
less, anyhow, no matter how, at 
any rate ON alia gotu ad. ace. 

Algezir: city in Granada, captured 
from the Moors in 1344 

alighte 3 pt. s. dismounted, 
camped ; alight pp. AS alihtan 
"remove load from" 

Alisaundre: Alexandria in Egypt 
was captured by the King ot 
Cyprus in 1365 

Alisaundre, Alysaunder : Alexander 
the Great 

Alisoun : friend of Dame Alice, the 
Wife of Bath 

Alkaron : Al-Koran, the Moslem 

all: although 

Alia, Alle, Aelli: king of Northum 
berland, 560-567 A. D. 

alias inter j. alas! OF. 

alle pi. al: all; alle and some] one 
and all 

allegge inf. allege, put forth as 
evidence OF esligier "free of 
legal difficulties" 

aller poss. pi. of all ; at oure aller 
cost] at the expense of all of us 

alliaunce: alliance OF. 

allon, allone: alone ME al + on 
< AS an, (?)ana 

allowethe for allow the 1 pr. s. I 
commend thee OF alouer 

allye, allyee sb. ally; allyes pi. 
family connections OF alier 

allyen, allie inf. ally oneself, join 
with; allyed pp. OF alier 

Alma redemptoris: the first words 
of several Latin hymns: alma 
redemptoris mater, benign mother 
of the Redeemer 

Almache : Almachius, "prefect" of 

Almageste : the greatest astronomi 
cal work of Ptolemy (c. 150 
A. D.) < Arab al (the) + 
mejisti < Gr megiste, greatest 

almesse: alms AS aelmysse 

almest: almost AS eal + maest 

almocst ad. almost 

almusdede: the giving of alms AS 
aelmysse + daed f. 

Alnath: a fixed star in Aries, name 
of the moon's first mansion 

Alocen: Alhazen c. 1000, an Ara 
bian astronomer 

alofte: aloft ON a lopt 

als: as AS eal swa 

also: as; often used to introduce a 
wish AS eal swa 

altercacioun : dispute OF. 

althou: although; cf. althogh 

alther-first : first of all; cf. alder- 

althogh, althou, althow: although 
ME al + AS Hah 

alway, alwey : always, continually ; 
AS ealne weg ad. ace. 

alyche: alike AS onlic a. 

alyght pp. alighted, arrived ; cf. 




alyve: alive AS on "yfe dat. 

Amadrides : Hamadryades, wood- 

Amazones: Amazons, nation of 

ambes as: double aces, lowest 
throw in dice OF. 

ambil sb. amble, gentle pace OF 

amblere sb. ambling horse 

amblyng: ambling, pacing gently 

amenden inf. better, improve ; 
amended 3 pt. s. ; amendid pp. 
OF amender 

ameved 3 pt. s. changed, altered 
OF esmovoir 

amonge, amonges ad. all the 
while ; among prep. AS onmang 

amor vincit omnia: Love conquers 
all things 

amorouse : amorous, loving OF 

a-morwe : on the morrow 

amounteth 3 pr. s. means, amounts 
to OF amonter 

Amphiorax: Amphiaraus, one of 
the Seven against Thebes, be 
trayed by Eriphyle, his wife, for 
a necklace 

Amphioun: Amphion, king of 
Thebes, the music of whose lyre 
caused stones to form themselves 
into the walls of Thebes 

amy: friend OF. 

amyable : amiable OF. 

amydde, amyddes, amyddis : amid, 
amidst AS on middan (dat. f. 
+ -es ad. suff.) 

amys: amiss, wrong ON a mis(?) 
AS missan 

an: cf. a 

an prep, on AS on 

ancre: anchor AS ancor 

and conj. and; and if] used with 
conditional force; used as a rela 
tive B 622 AS and 

Anelyda: queen of "Ermonye," 

angle: four houses, or divisions of 
zodiacal circle, were called angles, 
N. E. S. and West; angle merid 
ional] tenth mansion of the 
heavens (Sk.) OF. 

anglehoke: fish-hook, angle -f- AS 
hoc m. 

anglis: angles 

angre: anger, trouble ON angr 

angwissh: anguish OF anguisse 

anhange: hang ME on -f AS hon 
(pp. hangen) 

anlaas: knife, dagger ME on + 
OF laz "hanging on cord" 

annexe : annex ; annexed pp. bound 
to OF annexer 

annunciat pp. told of by annun 
ciation Lat. annunciatus 

anon, anone, anoon ad. right away, 
soon ; anon ryght] at once AS 
on an "in one (moment)" 

anoy: trouble OF anoi 

anoyeth 3 pr. s. turns out ill; 
annoy ye imp. pi OF anoier 

answere sb. answer, reply AS 
andswaru f. 

answere inf. answer ; answerde, 
answered 3 pt. s. AS andswarian 

antheme: anthem AS antefen < 

Anthenor : Antenor, according to 
Guide's Historia Troiana, be 
trayed Troy by sending the 
sacred Palladium to Ulysses 

Antheus, Antaeus : a giant, strength 
ened by every contact with earth, 
slain by Hercules, who held him 
over his head B 3298 

anthiphoner: antiphonea, hymn- 

Antiochus, Anthiochus : Antiochus, 
the great king of Syria, character 
in "Apollonius" 

Antonius: Mark Antony 

Antylegyus: Archilochus, slain with 
Achilles, q. v. 

anvelet: anvil AS anfilte, anfaelt n. 

anyght: at night 

apalled pp. weakened, pallid OF 

apayd pp. paid, repaid, satisfied 
OF paier 

ape sb. ape, dupe AS apa m. 

Apelles; cf. Appelles 

Apennyn : The Apennines 

aperceyve inf. perceive OF aper- 

aperceyvynges : perceptions 



apere inf. appear OF aparoir 

pres. stem aper 
apert: openly 
apertenaunt, apertenent, apertinent: 

belonging to OF apartenant 
apertenyng : belonging to 
apese inf. appease, allay ; apeseth 

imp. pi. OF apaisier 
apeyren inf. injure OF empeirier 
apiked pp. trimmed, adorned OF 

a -f piquer 
Apius: Appius Claudius, a Roman 


apostles poss. pi. apostles' 
apothecarie: apothecary OF 

apparaille sb. and inf. apparel OF 


apparaillynge : preparation 
apparence : appearance illusion 

appeere, apperen inf. appear OF 

Appelles: Apelles, Grecian painter 

of Alexander's time 
appetit: appetite OF. 
appreved pp. approved, true OF 


Apprile, Aprill, Aprille : April 
approcheth 3 pr. s. approacheth 

OF aprochier 
apresse : oppress, blame ; cf. 


aproprid pp. appropriated, inhe 
rent in OF aproprier 
aprovede pp. approved ; cf. 

aqueynt inf. refl. make myself 

acquainted OF acointer 
aqueyntaunce : acquaintance OF 


Arabe, Arabye: Arabia 
Arabyen: Arabian OF. 
arace inf. tear away, root out 

OF arachier 

aray: array, apparition OF arai 
archeer: archer OF archier 
archiwyves: wives who rule AS 

arce + wif 
Arcita, Arcite, Arcyte: Theban 

noble, cousin of Palamon in the 

Knight's Tale 

aredc inf. interpret AS araedan 
areest, areste: seizure, counsel, 

deliberation; cf. arreeste. OF 

areste inf. stop, halt OF arester 

arette imp. pi. impute; aretted pp. 
OF areter 

arewe: in a row AS on -f- raw, 
rsew f. 

argued 3 pt. s. argued; arguynge 
p. OF arguer 

argumenten 3 pr. pi. argue OF. 

argumentis: arguments 

argumentz: argument, angle, arc, 
etc., from which another quan 
tity may be deduced 

Argus: the hundred-eyed guardian, 
set by Juno to guard lo, slain 
by Mercury. He is confused 
(Du 435) with Algus, or Abu 
Ja'far Mohamed Ben Musa, 
whose work on algebra intro 
duced the Arabic numerals 

Aries cf. Ram 

arist 3 pr. s. arises ; aros 3 pt. s. 
arose ; arys imp. AS arisan 

Aristoclides: a Greek tyrant 

Aristotle: the great Athenian phil 
osopher and rhetorician 

arive: disembarkation of troops for 
assault OF. 

ark: arc, entent along rim horizon 
AS arc, arce 

armen inf. arm ; armeth imp. pi. ; 
armed pp. OF armer 

armes, armys pi. arms, coat-of- 
arms AS earm m. 

arm-greet: as large as your arm 

armlees: armless 

armonye: harmony OF harmonic 

Armorik: Armorica, Latin name 
for Brittany 

armoure: armor OF armure 

armurers: armorers OF armurier 

armynge sb. arming 

armypotente: powerful in arms 
Lat armipotens 

arn 3 pr. pi. are 

arowe, arwes pi. arrow AS 
ar(e)we f. 

arowe ad. in a row ; cf. arewe 

Arpies: Harpies, birds with female 
heads, mentioned in Virgil 

arrayed pp. equipped, prepared 
OF araier 




arreeste: arrest, confinement OF 


arrerage: arrears OF ariere + age 
arrest : the rest, or lance support ; 
in arrest] into position OF 

Arrius: friend of Latumius (Pale- 
tinus), two characters in Gesta 
ars-metrik : arithmetic Lat ars 


Arthemesie: Artemisia, wife of 
Mausolus, erected the mauso 
leum for his sepulchre 
Arthour: Arthur, king of Britain 
artificial day : "day," in which sun 

is above horizon 
artow : art thou 
Artoys : a province of France 
art, arte : art, science ; pers. Arti 
ficiality ; specifically, Ovid's "Ars 
Amatoria," A 476 
arwes : cf. arowe 
aryht, aryght: aright ME on -f 

aryve inf. come to land OF 


as: as if; used as expletive, with 
little meaning, slightly restrictive 
AS eal swa 
as: ace OF as 

asay: trial OF essai ob asaier 
asaye: try; cf. assaye OF asaier 
asayle inf. assail; cf. assaille OF 


ascencioun of the equynoxial: as 
cension of the equinoctial, fifteen 
degrees, or one hour OF ascen- 

ascendent: ascendant, point of 
ecliptic rising above horizon at 
given moment OF. 
ascendynge: in the ascendant; cf. 


ascuse: excuse OF escuse 
asken inf. ask ; aske 2 and 3 pr. s. 

subj. AS ascian, acsian 
asking s. question 
aslaked pp. assuaged AS aslacian 
aslepe: asleep ME on + slep dat. 
asonder a. asunder, apart AS 


asp: aspen, poplar; aspe AS aesp, 
aespe f. 

aspect: astrological situation; the 
relation between two planets OF 

aspre: fierce OF. 
aspye: spy, see OF espier 
assaille, asayle inf. assail ; as- 

sailled pp. OF assailler 
assaut sb. assault OF assaut 
assay sb. test, trial OF assai 
assay inf. try, test ; assayed pp. 

OF assier 

asse: ass AS assa m. 
asseged pp. besieged OF asegier 
assemblen inf. assemble ; assem- 

blede pp. OF asembler 
assente inf. agree to, consent; as- 

sentid pp. OF assentir 
asseureth 3 pr. s. assures OF 


assh: ash tree AS sesc m. (i-stem) 
asshen sb. pi. ashes AS asce f. 
asshen a. ashen, pale 
asshy : strewn with ashes 
assise : assize OF assise "sitting" 
assoille : absolve OF assoile pr. s. 

subj. of assoudre 
assoillyng sb. absolution 
asterte inf. escape, burst out; 3 
pt. s. subj. might escape ; as- 
terted 3 pt. s. ; astert pp. ME 
asterten ; cf . AS sturtan 
astonyed 3 pt. s. astonished 
astoned, astonied, astonyd pp. 
OF estoner 

astored pp. provided OF estorer 
astrelabie: astrolabe, instrument 
for obtaining altitude of planets 
and stars Lat astrolabium 
astrologien : astrologer, astrono 
mer OF. 

astronomye : really astrology, the 
science of the application of 
astronomy to human uses through 
prediction or through the sup 
posed influence of the planets 
over the lives of men OF astron 

asure: azure, blue OF azur 
aswage: assuage, lessen OF 


aswow, aswowne : in a swoon 
on + AS swogen (geswogen 
asyde: aside ME on + AS side f. 




Asye: Asia, or Asia Minor OF 


at: at, through, of; at all] in every 
respect ; at our large] free AS 

atake inf. overtake ME a + take 
Atazir: influence Arab al-tazir 
atempry: temperate OF atempre 
ateyn inf. attain, discover OF 

ateindre, pr. stem ateign 
Athalante: Atalante, a nymph, a 
keen, swift huntress, beloved by 
Hippomenes, and beaten by him 
in a race through his dropping 
of golden apples; she took part 
with Meleager in the Calydonian 
Athalus: Attalus, reputed inventor 

of chess 

Eton ad. at one] into reconcilia 
atones, attones ad. at one time, 

at once ME at + AS anes 
atrede inf. surpass in judgment 

ME at + rede AS raedan 
atrenne inf. surpass in running 

at -f- AS rinnan 
att oo worde : in a word 
attamed pp. brought on OF 

atte: at the; atte beste] in the 

best way; atte fulle] fully 
attemperaunce : self-control OF 

attempre, attempree : temperate, 

tempered, mild OF atempre 
attendance: attentive service OF. 
Attenes: Athens 
atteyne inf. attain ; cf. ateyn 
Atthalante, *Athalante 
atthamaunt: adamant, q. v. 
Atthenes: Athens 

Attheon : Actaeon, a Grecian youth, 
accidentally saw Diana bathing, 
whereupon he was turned into a 
stag and devoured by his own 

Attilla: Attila, "the scourge of 
God," is said to have burst a 

attones : at one time ; cf. atones 
atweyne : in two ME on + tweyne 
q. v. 

atwo: in two ME on, a + two 

q. v. 

atyr: attire OF atire 
auctoritee, autorite : authority, 

authoritative statement OF 

auctour, autourys pi. author; in 

B 4172 the reference is to 

Cicero, author of De Divinatione 

OF autor, auctour 
audience: hearing OF. 
auditour: auditor OF. 
aught ad. at all AS awiht 
aught, ought: ought, owed AS 


auncestre: ancestor OF ancestre 
aungel: angel AS sengel, engel, 

OF angele 

aungellyche : like an angel 
aunte: aunt OF aunte 
auntrous: adventurous OF aven- 


Aurelian: Roman Emperor d. 275 
Aurelius: a Breton squire 
Aurora: the title of a Latin metri 
cal version of the Bible by Petrus 

de Riga, in the twelfth century 
Austyn: St. Augustine of Hippo, 

author of the rules governing the 

Augustinian canons 
autentyke a. authentic OF 


auter: altar OF auter AS altar 
autorite : authority ; autoriteis pi. 

cf. auctoritee OF autorite 
autourys : authors ; cf. auctour 
availe, availle inf. avail, aid, be of 

value ; availeth 3 pr. s. ; avayle 

3 pr. pi OF a + valoir, pres. 

stem vail 
avalen inf. take down, cast down 

OF avaler 
avantage : advantage ; doon his 

avantage] employ his opportunity 

avante, avaunte 1 pr. s. boast 

OF avanter 
avaunce inf. advance, aid OF 

avaunt sb. boast, claim OF 


avauntage: advantage OF. 
avaunte 1 pr. s. refl. boast OF. 
avauntour: boaster OF. 




avauntyng sb. boasting 

Ave Marie : Ave Maria, Hail Mary 

aventaille: the lower part of the 

helmet OF esventail 
aventure: hap, fortune, chance 

Arveragus: a Breton knight < Celt 


Averill: April OF Avril 
Averrois: Averroes, Moorish 

scholar and physician of twelfth 

avise, avyse 1 pr. s. refl. reflect 

OF aviser 

avision: vision, dream OF. 
avouterye : adultery OF avoutrie 
avow sb. vow OF avoue 
avowe inf. avow ; avowyth 3 pr. s. 

vows OF avouer 
Avoy! fie! OF avoy 
Avycen: Avicenna, Ibn Sina, Ara 
bian physician of the eleventh 

century, called the "Prince of 

avys: advice, discussion, opinion 

OF avis 
avyse inf. take counsel with 

(refl.), consider, ponder; avyseth 

2 imp. deliberate OF aviser 
avysely: advisedly 
avysement: consideration OF. 
awake imp. s. awaken ; awaketh 

imp. pi. ; awaked, awooke 1 pt. s. 

AS awacnan int. (weak) on- 

wsecnan (strong) 
awapid, awhaaped pp. amazed ME 

a + whape ; cf. whap to strike 
awayt sb. watch, surveillance OF 


awaytinges : services 
awerke : at work ME on werke, 

petrified dat. 
aweye: gone, absent AS on weg, 


aweyward: away, backwards 
awhaaped pp. amazed, dumb 
founded ; cf. awaped 
awreke inf. avenge ; awreke pp. 

AS on + wrecan 
ax sb. axe AS sex, eax f. 
axen inf. ask, seek, incur; axe 

1 pr. s. ; axed 3 pt. s. ; axsede 

3 pt. pi. AS acsian 
axyng sb. request, question 

ay ad. aye, always, ever AS a, 

Icel ei 

ayen, ayeyn: again; cf. ageyn 
ayen, ayenst, ayeyns: opposite, 


ayleth 2, 3 pr. s. ails AS eglan 
ay re: air OF air 


ba: caress, kiss OF baer "to open 

the mouth" 

baar, bar 3 pt. s. bore; cf. bere 
Babilon a. Babylonian 
Babiloigne, Babyloyne: Babylon 
bacheler: youth, candidate for 

knighthood OF. 
bachelrye: young men OF bach- 


bacoun: bacon OF bacon 
Bacus: Bacchus, god of wine 
bacyns: basins OF bacin 
bad 3 pt. s. bade; cf. bidde 
bade 1 pt. s. bidde 
badde a. bad (orig. unkn.) 
badder: worse 

baggepipe: bagpipe Icel baggi 
bagges: bags Icel baggi 
baggeth 3 pr. s. looks askance 
baillif sb. bailiff, steward or over 
seer OF. 
baiteth 3 pr. s. baits, pastures ; cf. 

bak, bake, bakke sb. back AS 

baec n. 

bake pp. baked AS bacan 
balade: a poem of three stanzas 

with "envoy" ; the meter found 

in such a poem riming abab bcc 
balaunce s. balance; in balaunce] 

in suspense OF. 
Baldeswelle : Bawdeswell 
bale: ill, sorrow; for bote ne bale] 

for good nor for ill AS balu, 

bealu n. 
balke : beam AS balca "a heap," 


balled a. bald Gael bal "spot" 
bane: death, destruction AS bana 

m. "slayer" 
baner: banner, the signal for the 

muster of troops OF banere 
banysshed pp. banished OF 

Barbarye : heathendom 




harbour: barber, who often acted 

as surgeon OF barbeor 
barbre : barbarian ME barbare < 

Lat barbarus 
barel : barrel ; barel ale] barrel of 

ale OF baril 
baren 3 pt. pi. refl. behaved; cf. 


bareyne: barren OF baraine 
bargaynes sb. pi. bargains OF 


barly: barley AS baerlic 
barm: bosom; barme dat. AS 

bearm m. 
Barnabo Viscounte : Bernabo Vis- 

conti, duke of Milan, died 1385 
baronage : assembly of barons, the 

nobility OF. 

barre : bar ; barres : metal orna 
ments on a girdle OF. 
bataille, batayle sb. battle OF. 
batailled a. embattled, like a bat 

bateth 3 pr. s. baits ; cf. bayte 
Bathe: Bath, in Somerset, England 
bauderie: gaiety; cf. OF bauderie 

baudes: bawds ME bawdstrot < 

OF baldestrot 
baudy: dirty 
bawdryk: baldric or belt worn 

over one shoulder OF baldric, 

bayte inf. bait, feed; baiteth 3 pr. 

s. ; bateth ON beita "to make 

be 3 pr. s. subj., imp., pp. ; cf. ben 

AS beon 
be prep, by ; be my trouthe] truly, 

verily AS bi 
beare inf. bear; cf. bere; beare 

lyfe] live 

beaute: beauty; beauteis pi. OF. 
bech: beech tree AS bece f. 
become inf. become ; becomen pp. ; 

wher is becomen] what has be 
come of AS becuman 
bed: bed; bedde; beddes, beddys, 

bedis poss. ; bedde pi. AS bed 
beddynge: bedding 
bede 1 pt. pi., pp. ordered; cf. 

bedes pi. beads AS bed- (in 

comp.) prayer < biddan 

beede 1 pr. s. offer ; 2 pr. pi. ; 

bede pp. AS beodan 
beck sb. beak ; bek OF bee 
beel amy: good friend OF bel ami 
beem sb. beam; bemes pi. AS 

beam m. 

been pi. bees AS beo f. 
beende: bend AS bendan 
beer 3 pt. s bore ; cf. bere 
beerd: beard AS beard m. 
beere: bier AS bser f. 
beeste: beast OF beste 
beete inf. kindle, mend ; betten 

3 pt. pi. AS betan 
befill 3 pt. s. happened ; cf. bifalle 

AS befeallaii 

beforn: beforehand AS beforan 
began pt. s. beginne 
begge inf. beg OF begger 
begged: a begged] a-begging (old 

gerund ending -ath) ; cf. a 
beggere: begger OF begart 
beggestere: beggar woman OF 

beg + AS estere f. suff. 
begile inf. beguile, deceive be + 

OF guiler 

begoon : situated ; cf. bigon 
beheette: promised AS behatan 
beholde, behelde : behold ; on to 

behold] look upon AS behealdan 
behoteth 3 pr. s. promise ; cf. 

behote AS behatan 
behynde : behind, in the rear ranks 

AS behindan 

bek: beak; bekys pi. OF bee 
bekke : beck, nod 

beleve inf. believe AS ge-lyfan 
belle sb. bell AS belle 
Bellona: Goddess of War 
Belmarye : a Moorish kingdom in 

Africa, Benamarin 
bemes pi. trumpets AS bemes 
bemes, bemys pi. beams AS beam 
ben inf. to be ; pp. AS beon 
bene: bean AS bean f. 
benedicite: bless ye; often pro 
nounced as a three-syllable word, 

ben'cite, bendiste Lat. 
benefice sb. ecclesiastical living 


benethen: beneath AS beneoCan 
bente: grassy slope AS beonet, 

"a grass" 
benygne a. kindly OF benigne 




benygnely : lovingly 

benyngnytee: benignity OF be- 

beo 3 pi. pr. be ; cf. ben 

berafte 3 pt. s. bereft AS bireafian 

berd sb. beard; forked berd] 
forked beards were the custom 
among the bourgeois of Chaucer's 
day; make his berd] beguile him; 
double berd] two beards F 1252; 
cf. Janus AS beard m. 

bere sb. bear; beres poss. or pi. 
AS bera m. 

bere sb. bier; cf. beere 

bere sb. pillow case ; cf. pilwebeer 
AS bere "covering" 

bere, ber inf. bear, endure; 1 pr. 
s ; 3 pr. s. subj. pierce ; bereth 
3 pr. s. ; bar 3 pt. s. ; bore, borne 
pp. ; bere on honde] pretend, 
"bluff" AS beran 

berie inf. bury ; beryed pp. AS- 

berkyng sb. barking AS beorcan 

Bernard: St. Bernard (1091-1153) 

Bernard: Bernardus Gordonius, 
professor of medicine at Mont- 
pellier, was a contemporary of 

berne: barn AS bern 

berth 3 pr. s. beareth ; berth on 
honde] chargeth ; cf. bere 

Berwyk: a town in Northumber 
land, on the Tweed 

berye sb. berry AS berie 

beryed pp. buried 

berynge: bearing, behavior 

beseche inf. beseech ME sechen 

besely, bisily: busily AS bisig 

besette inf. employ, bestow ; 3 pt. 
s. ; pp.; beset pp. be -f AS 

besey pp. beseen ; wel besey] good- 
looking, fair to see; cf. see 

bespreynte pp. sprinkled, bedewed 
AS besprengan 

beste sb. beast; bestis pi. OF 

besy: busy, anxious AS bysig 

besyede 3 pt. pi busied AS 

besyly : busily 

besynesse: business AS bysig + 

bet ad. better AS bet 

bet: better; go bet] go as rapidly 

as possible 
bete inf. amend; cf. beete. AS 

bete 1 pr. s. beat, hammer; 3 pr. 

s. subj. ; beten, bet pp. AS 


beter: better AS betra 
beth imp. pi. be 
bethenke 1 pr. s. refl. consider; 

imp. ; bethoughte 1 pt. s. AS 


Bethulia: home of Judith q. v. 
bethynke inf. imagine, contrive 
betraysed 3 pt. s. betrayed be -f- 

OF trair 
betre ad. better 
betten 3 pt. pi. kindle; cf. beete 
betwex, betwixen, betwixsyn, bet- 

wixe: betwixt, between AS 

betyde: happen ME be -f tiden < 

AS tidan 

betyme: promptly be + time 
betyr: better 
Beute: Beauty 
bevere a. of beaver AS beofor 

m. (n) 
Beves: Sir Bevis of Hampton, a 

popular Middle English metrical 

bewayled 3 pt. s. bewailed ME be 

+ wailen 
bewreye inf. betray be + AS 

wregan "accuse" 
beye inf. buy AS bycgan 
bi: of, about AS bi 
bibledde : drenched with blood 

AS bi + bledan 

Biblis: Byblis, changed to a foun 
tain on being rejected in love 
bicched: cursed (orig. uncert.) 
biclappe: catch AS clappan 
bidaffed pp. befooled (orig. un 
cert. < daff "fool") 
bidde : ask, command ; bit 3 pr. s. ; 

bade pt. s. ; byd imp. AS biddan 
bifalle inf. befall; pp.; bifil pt. 

impers. ; bifelle 3 pr. s. subj. AS 

bifore, biforn ad., prep, before AS 

biforen ad. in the front of 




biforn a. forehanded, prudent 
bigamye : bigamy, marrying twice 

OF bigamie 
bigan 3 pt. s. began ; cf. bigynne 

AS beginnan 
bigeten pp. begotten AS be + 

bigile inf. beguile; cf. begile ME 

be + OF guiler 
bigon: situated, beset; wel bigon] 

happy; wo bigon] distressed AS 

bigonne 2 pt. s. ; began pp. bord 

bigonne] sat at the head of the 

table ; cf. bigynne 
bigynne inf. begin ; bygynneth 3 

pr. s. ; bigonne 2 pt. s. ; bigan 

3 pt. s. ; bigonne pp. AS be 

biheeste: promise AS behSs 
biheete inf. promise ; bihight pp. 

AS behatan 

bihight pp. promised ; cf. biheete 
biholde inf. behold; cf. beholde 
bihote 1 pr. s. promise 
bihoveth: it is necessary, fitting 

AS bihofian 
bihynde: behind 

biknowe inf. acknowledge, con 
fess; biknewe 3 pt. pi. AS bi + 


bileeve: creed AS geleafa 
bileve: stay behind AS belSfan 
bille: bill, petition NorF bille > 

biloved pp. beloved AS be + 

Bilyea: wife of Duellius; she was 

silent about his defects 
biquethe 1 pr. s. bequeath ; pp. ; 

AS becwet5an "make a state* 


biraft pp. bereft; cf. bireve 
bireve inf. bereave, deprive; 

birafte 3 pt. s. bereft; biraft 

pp. AS bireafian 
biseged pp. besieged ; cf. sege 
biseke 1 pr. s. beseech ; biseken 

1 pr. pi. ; bisekynge p. ME be 

-f sechen 
bisette 3 pt. s. employed, used; 

cf. besette 
biseye pp. beseen, adorned; yvel 

biseye] ill-appearing; cf. besey 

AS beseon 
bishrewe 1 pr. s. curse be + AS 

screawa "shrew-mouse" 
biside : near, beside; hym bisides] 

around him, at hand AS be sldan 


bisily: busily 
bismotered pp. stained, soiled 

ME bi + smot ; cf. Sw smuts 

bistad: ill-situated, troubled ME 

bisteden < Scan; cf. AS stede 
bistowe: bestow bi + AS stow, 

bistrood 3 pt. s. bestrode AS 


bisy a. busy AS bysig 
bisynesse : buf'ness 
bit: but AS.butan 
bit 3 pr. s. biddeth; cf. bidde 
bitake 1 pr. s. commit AS be + 

ME taken 
biteche 1 pr. s. consign to AS 

bitokneth 3 pr. s. signifies ME 

be + AS getacnian 
bitore: bittern OF butore 
bitrayseth 3 pr. s. betrays; 

bitraysed pp. OF trair 
bittre: bitter AS bitter 
bityde inf. betide, happen to ; 3 

pr. s. subj. ; bitidde 3 pt. s. AS 

be -f- tidan 

bitynge: sharp AS bitan 
biwaillen inf. bewail ; biwailled 

pp. ; cf. bewayled 
biwreye inf. reveal, betray be -f 

AS wregan 

biyonde: beyond AS begeondan 
bladdre: bladder AS blaedre f. 
blak: black; a man in blak] John 

of Gaunt, in black for the death 

of his duchess, Blaunche AS 

blac, blxc 

blakeberyed: a blackberrying, wan 

blaked pp. turned black 
blame sb. censure OF blasmer 
blame inf. condemn ; blamyd pp. 
blankmanger sb. a compound of 

capon, rice, milk, sugar and 

almonds, named from its color 





blaspheme sb. blasphemy Lat 


blasphemour: blasphemer 
bleched pp. bleached AS blsecan 
bledde 3 pt. s., pi. bled AS 


Blee: Blean Forest, near Canter 
blent 3 pr. s. blinds; pp. AS 

blered pp. bleared, dimmed ME 

bleren "to become watery" 
blerying of an eye: cheating, trick 

blew a. blue OF bleu 
blew pt. s. blowe AS blawan 
bleynte 3 pt. s. blenched, drew 

back AS blencan "deceive" 
blisful a. happy, bliss-bestowing, 

helpful AS bli>s + ful 
blisse inf. bless AS bletsian 
blody: bloody AS blodig 
blondren 1 pr. pi. blunder Norw 

blundra "shut the eyes" 
bloode: blood AS blod n. 
blosmy: full of blossoms AS 

blosma + y, ig 

blowe inf. blow; blowe, blowen 
pp. blown, proclaimed by her 
alds AS blawan 
blynd: blind AS blind 
blysse: bliss, joy AS blij>s f. 
blythe: glad AS bli>e 
blythely: gladly 
bly ve : quickly, soon ; as blyve] 

very soon ME be + lyve 
bobance: brag, boast OF 
Bobbe-up-and-down : a village near 


bocher: butcher OF bochier 
bode sb. delay < abood ; cf. abyde 
bode sb. foreboding AS bod n. 


bode pp. bidden; cf. bede 
body: body, corpse AS bodig 
bodyn pp. bidden ; cf. bidde 
Boece : Boethius "De Consolatione 
Philosophise," a Latin work in 
prose and verse, popular in the 
Middle Ages. Boethius (Boetius) 
lived 475-524 A. D. He also 
wrote a treatise on music. He 
was put to death by Theodoric 

boght pp. bought ; boghte agayne] 

redeemed; cf. bye 
Boghtoun under Blee: Boughton- 

under-Blean, a village five miles 

from Canterbury 

boille inf. boil, cook OF boillir 
boistous: loud, rude < OF bois- 


boistously : loudly 
bok: book AS boc f. 
Boke of the Leoun: a lost work 

of Chaucer's 
bokeler: buckler, a small round 

shield OF bucler 
bokelynge : buckling 
boket: bucket OF boket < AS 

buc pitcher 
bolde: to grow bold; cf. AS beal- 


boldely: boldly 
boldenesse : courage 
boles: bulls AS bula(?) 
Boloigne: Boulogne, France, on 

English Channel, visited by pil 
grims because of an image of 

the Virgin 

Boloigne: Bologne in Italy 
bombleth: makes a booming noise 

ME <boonen < Du(?) 
bonde s. bond OF bande 
bonde pp. bound ; cf. bynde 
bone : boon, request Icel bon AS 

ben f. 

bontee: generosity OF. 
boon: bone; bones pi. AS ban n. 
boond 3 pt. s. bound; cf. bynde 
boor: the Erymanthian boar slain 

by Hercules AS bar m. 
boot sb. boat AS bat m. 
boot 3 pt. s. bit; cf. byte 
boote: help, remedy AS bot f. 
bootes pi. boots OF bote 
boras sb. borax OF < Arab 
bord sb. board, plank, side of 

ship, table; bord bigonne] sat 

at the head of the table; borde 

AS bord n. 

bord inf. to board OF aborder 
bordit pp. jested OF bourder 
bore pp. born ; cf. bere 
borel sb. coarse garments OF 

burel "coarse woollen cloth" 
borel a. rude; borel men] lay* 





bores: boars; poss. AS bar m. 

borne pp. bere; cf. bere 

borowe, borwe : security ; seynt 

John to borowe] St. John for 

security (protection on journey) 

AS borg m. 

borwe inf. borrow AS borgian 
bost sb. boast AF bost 
bote sb. good ; for bote ne bale] 

for good nor for ill AS bot f. 
botel: bottle; a botel hey] bundle 

of hay OF botel 
boterflye: butterfly AS butere + 

fleoge f. 

bothe pi., poss. pi. both AS ba, >a 
botme: bottom AS botm m. 
bouk: trunk of the body AS buc 


bounden pp. bound ; cf. binde 
boundes: bounds AF bounde 
bountee: kindness, generosity OF 


bounteous: bountiful OF bontif 
hour, bouris pi. bower AS bur m. 
bourde: joke OF. 
bow, bowys pi. bough AS bog m. 
bowe sb. bow AS boga m. 
bowen inf. bow ; boweth 2 imp. s. ; 

bowynge p. AS bugan 
bowgh: bough, branch AS bog 


bown: ready, prepared Icel buinn 
boxtree: symbolical for paleness 

AS box m. 
boydekyns: daggers, bodkins Gael 


boyste: box OF boiste 
bracer: a leather guard to protect 

the arm from the bowstring OF. 
Bradwardyn: Proctor at Oxford 

1325, afterwards chancellor 
brak 3 pt. s. broke; cf. breke 
bras: brass AS braes n. 
brast 3 pt. s. subj. would burst; 

cf. bresten 

braunches: boughs OF branche 
bra wen: brawn of the boar OF 


brawnes : muscles 
brayed pp. started; cf. breyde 
brayn: brain AS braegen n. 
brede: breadth AS braedu m. 
breech: breeches AS brec, s. of 

broc f. 

breede, breed: bread AS bread n. 
breek 3 pt. s. subj. broke; cf. 

breem : bream, a fresh water fish 

OF bresme 

breeth: breath AS brStS m. 
breke inf. break, break off, go to 

pieces ; brake, broke 3 pt. s. ; 

breek 3 pt. s. subj. AS brecan 
brekers: breakers, trespassers 
brekke: flaw, wrinkle AS brece(?) 
brembulflour: flower of the bramble 

AS brembel m. 
breme: furiously, famously AS 


bren sb. bran OF. 
brenne, bren inf. burn ; 3 pr. pi. ; 

brendest 2 pt. s. ; brende, brente 

3 pt. s. ; brend, brent pp. AS 


brennynge sb. burning 
brennyngly: ardently 
breres: briars AS brier f. 
brest sb. breast; breste. AS 

breost n. 
bresten inf. break, burst ; brest 

3 pr. s. ; bruste, brosten 3 pt. pi. ; 

breste 3 pr. s. subj ; brast 3 pt. 

s. subj. AS berstan 
bretful a. brimful AS brerd 

"brim" -f- ful 
bretherhood : brotherhood AS 

broSor -f- hood 
breyde 3 pt. s. cast ; brayed pp. 

AS bregdan 
brist : breast ; cf. brest 
bristplate: breastplate OF plate 
Britaigne: Brittany, Bretagne in 


Britons: Britons, the Welsh 
Brixseyde: Briseis, beloved by 

Achilles, and cause of his quarrel 

with Agamemnon (Iliad I) 
broche: brooch OF. 
brod sb. brood AS brod f. 
brode a. broad AS brad 
brode ad. broadly, plainly 
broght pp. brought ; cf. bryngen 
broille inf. broil AF broiller 
broke 3 pt. s. broke; cf. breke 
bronde: brand, fire brand AS 

brand m. 
brosten, broste 3 pi. pt. burst; cf. 





brotelnesse : frailty ; cf. brutelnesse 
brother: brother; brother, brothres 

poss. s. AS brotior 
brouded pp. embroidered OF 

broughte 3 pt. s. ; broughten 3 pt. 

pi. brought; cf. bryngen 
brouke : enjoy the use of AS 

broun, broune a. brown AS 


browdynge : embroidery 
browes: brows AS bru, pi. brua, 

bruwa f. 
browken 3 pr. pi. subj. enjoy ; cf. 


browhte 3 pt. s. brought 
broyded pp. braided OF brosder 

+ AS bregdan, by confusion 
Brugges: Bruges, city in Belgium 
bruste : 3 pt. pi. burst ; cf. bresten 
brustles: bristles 

brutelnesse : instability, "brittle- 
ness" ME brotel < AS breotan 

"break" + nesse 
Brutes Albyoun: Brutus Albion, 

England, founded according to 

legend by Brutus 
Brutus Cassius: an error by 

Chaucer for Brutus and Cassius, 

the conspirators (the symbol & 

being probably omitted in Vin 
cent of Beauvais, Chaucer's 


bryddis: birds AS bridd m. 
brydel sb. bridle, rule AS bridel 
brydeleth 3 pr. s. bridles, governs 

in love 

bryghte: bright AS berht, beorht 
brymstoon sb. brimstone, sulphur 

ME brenstoon "burning stone" 
bryngen inf. bring; broughte, 

browhte 3 pt. s. ; broughten 3 pt. 

pi. ; broght pp. AS bringan 
brynke : brink Icel brekka(?) 

"crest of hill" 
brynne : burn ; cf . brenne 
buk, bukke: buck, so-called from 

the sixth year on AS bucca m. 
bulles: bulls, papal edicts Lat 

bulla "seal" 

bulte 3 pt. s. built AS byldan 
bulte it to the bren: sift to the 

bran OF bulter 

Burdeux: Bordeaux: Burdeux- 

ward: the region of Bordeaux 
burdoun sb. burden of song, bass 

accompaniment OF bourdon 
burel : of rough cloth ; hence, rude ; 

cf. borel 

burgeys sb. burgess OF burgeis 
burghes: towns AS burg f. 
burned pp. burnished OF burnir 
Burnel the Asse : Burnellus seu 
speculum stultorum (The Mir 
ror of Fools) by Nigel Wireker 
about 1200 

burthe sb. birth Icel byrtS f. 
burye inf. bury AS byrgan 
buryeles: burial-places < AS 

byrigels, tomb 

Busirus: Busiris, a king of Egypt, 
slain by Hercules, confused by 
Chaucer with Diomedes, king of 
Thrace, of whom the story of 
the mare is told B 3293 
buskes: bushes Scan busk 
bussh : bush ; bussh unbrent] the 
burning, but unconsumed, bush 
which Moses saw was consid 
ered a symbol of Mary's constant 

but conj. unless, except AS butan 
but ad. but, only ; prep, without 
but if: unless 

butiller: butler OF butuiller 
buxomly: obediently AS buhsum 

+ He 

buxhumnesse: obedient spirit 
by: for, concerning, by the example 

of, with reference to 
by and by : side by side 
by ony weye : in every way 
bycause : because ME bi + cause 
byd imper. order ; cf. bidde 
byde inf. wait AS bidan 
bye inf. buy, pay for ; bie 1 pr. s. 

AS bycgan 

byfore, byforen: before AS beforan 
byheste : behest, promise ; pers. 
byhove inf. need AS bihofian 
byjaped pp. befooled, tricked OF 

japper "yap" 

byldere: builder, used in buildii 
byle: bill AS bile m. 
bynde inf. bind; bynt 3 pr. s. ; 
boond 3 pt. s. ; bonde pp. 
bounden pp. AS bindan. 




byndyng sb. binding 

bynne: bin AS binn 

bynt 3 pr. s. binds ; cf . bynde 

byte inf. bite, take hold; bytith 3 

pr. s. ; boot 3 pt. s. AS bitan 
bythoght pp. bethought AS 


byttyrncssc : bitterness 
byyngc: buying 

caas sb. chance, misfortune; pi. 

cases of law OF cas 
cacche, cachche inf. win ; caughte, 

kaught 1 pt. s., pi. ; kaught, kaute 

pp. NorF cachier 
Cacus : a famous giant, robber and 

cannibal, strangled by Hercules 
Cadmus : the founder of Thebes ; 

cake : round, flat loaf of bread 

Icel kaka 
calandier: calendar, record OF 

< Lat. 

Calistopee: Callisto; cf. Calyxte 
calle: caul, close cap or net OF 

calle inf., 3 pt. s. call; callid 2 

pt. pi. Icel kalla AS ceallian 
Calyxte: Callisto, nymph of Diana, 

ancestress of the Arcadians, 

turned into a bear (the star 

Arctus) for her infidelity to 


camaille : camel NorF camel 
Cambalo : son of Cambynskan 
Cambynskan: Genghis Khan, grand 
father of Kublai Khan 
Campaneus : Capaneus, one of the 

Seven against Thebes 
Canacee: Canace, sister and mis 
tress of Macareus (Ovid) 
Canacee: daughter of Cambynskan 
Cananee : Canaanitish 
Candace : queen of India, beloved 

of Alexander 

candel: candle AS candel 
Cane: Cana, town in Galilee, John 

ii. 1 
canel-boon: collar bone OF canel 

canoun: the "Canon in Medicine," 

a work by Avicenna 

cantel: portion ONorF cantel 

capitayn: captain OF capitaine 

Capitolie: the Capitol in Rome 

Cappaneus: Capaneus, one of the 
seven heroes who besieged 
Thebes; killed by a thunderbolt 
as he was scaling the wall 

cappe: cap; sette hir aller cappe] 
cheated them all AS caeppe 

capul: nag Icel kapall(?) 

cardyacle: heart-spasm Lat. 

care: care, trouble; a sory care] 
a misfortune AS caru f. 

careyne, carayne : carcase, carrion 
OF caroigne 

carf 3 pt. s. carved. Carving was 
one of the duties of the squire 

carie inf. carry ; caryeden 3 pt. pi. ; 
caried pp. ONorF carier 

cariynge: carrying 

carl: churl, low fellow AS ceorl 

carole inf. dance to the accom 
paniment of a song sung by the 
dancer OF. 

caroles pi. a dance with singing 

carolewyse : like a carol 

carpe inf. chatter, talk Icel karpa 

carpenteris poss. carpenter's 

ONorF carpentier 

Carrenare : Various attempts have 
been made to expain the "dry 
sea" and the "Carrenare." The 
former has been explained va 
riously as the Sahara, the "Grav 
elly Sea" of Mandeville, the 
variable Lake of Czirknitz, and 
the "Adrye Se" or Adriatic. 
Carrenare is generally explained 
as the Gulf of Carnaro. J. L. 
Lowes has collected good evi 
dence to show that the dry sea 
is the Lop Nor (sand lake) or 
Desert of Gobi in Asia, near 
which was situated a Kara Nor 
(Black Lake). Both of these 
are close to the old overland 
caravan route from China, and 
are found on medieval maps. 
To go "hoodeles" there would 
be a test of love, indeed. Such 
tests of love are a common con 
vention in Chaucer's time 




Cartage: Carthage, ancient city on 
the African shore of the Medi 

carte: cart, chariot AS craet n. 

cartere: carter, charioteer 

caryeden 3 pt. pi carried 

cas: luck, chance, case 

Cassandra: the daughter of King 
Priam, had the power of proph 
ecy, but also a curse which pre 
vented belief in her prophecies. 
Therefore she had the sorrow of 
foreseeing all the misfortune of 
the city without being able to 
use her knowledge and prevent 
the coming evils 

cast sb. plan, occasion Icel kast 

caste 1 pr. s., 3 pt. s. cast, con 
jecture, purpose, plan ; casteth 
3 pr. s. ; cast pp. ; with hys on 
ye caste up] looked up Icel 

castel : castle ; longe castel : a ref 
erence to Lancaster, John of 
Gaunt ("seynt Johan") , earl of 
Richmond ("ryche hille"), and 
husband of Blanche ("with walles 
whyte") AS castel 

castigacioun : punishment Lat 

casually: by accident OF casuel 

catel sb. chattel, property OF. 

Catoun: Cato 

caughte 3 pt. s. caught; cf. cacche 

Caunturbury: Canterbury 

cause : cause, purpose, plea, reason ; 
cause why] there's a reason OF. 

causeles: without reason 

caytyf sb., caytayves pi. prisoner, 
wretch OF caitif 

caytyf a. wretched 

Cecile, Cecilie: Cecilia, Christian 
martyr, died at Rome 230 A. D. ; 
cf. heven for explanation of ety 

ceint sb. girdle OF. 

celerer: cellarer OF cellerier 

celle sb. a small monastery under 
the control of another monas 
tery ; celle fantastik : the part of 
the brain whence fancies arose; 
the brain was divided into three 
cells, each the seat of a different 
faculty OF celle 

cely: silly, innocent, poor AS 
saelig * 

Cenobia : Zenobia, queen of Pal 

centaure, centaury: an herb OF 

Centauros ace. pi. Centaurs, fabu 
lous half-man, half-horse 

centence: sentence, matter OF. 

centre: fulcrum, pivot OF. 

centris: centres, the small brass 
projection on the rete of astro 
labe, denoting position of fixed 
star (Sk.) 

ceptre: sceptre OF. 

Cerberus: the three-headed watch 
dog of Hades 

cercled pp. extended in a circle 

cercles: circles OF. 

cerial: a kind of oak Lat cerreus 

ceriously : minutely Lat ceriose, 

certeinly ad. certainly OF certein 

certes, certis: truly OF. 

certeyn a. certain, sure OF cer 

certeyn ad. certainly, surely 

ceruce sb. a cosmetic made from 
white lead OF ceruse 

cerymonyes: observances of forms 
of courtship OF ceremonie 

Cesar: Julius Caesar 

Cesar: Csesar, the emperor; Augus 
tus L 592 

cese, cesse inf. cease OF cesser 

cetewale : valerian, an herb OF 

chaar: chariot OF. 

chaast: chaste OF chaste 

chaastnesse: chastity OF chast 

chace inf. chase, hunt, drive OF 

chaffare: bargaining, business AS 
ceap price + faru f. business 

chaffare inf. bargain 

chaier: chariot OF chaiere 

Chaldeye: Chaldaea 

chalenge inf. claim; chalange 
pr. s. OF. 

chamberere: chambermaid OF. 

chamberleyn : chamberlain Ol 

chambre: chamber; marriage-chani' 




her, marriage ; chambre of pare- 
mentz] presence-chamber OF. 

champartie: equality, division of 
power OF. 

champioun sb. champion OF. 

chanon: canon, member of religious 
order, like monks, but under dif 
ferent rule 

chaped pp. provided with metal 
mountings OF chape 

chapeleyne: chaplain; the office is 
held by a nun OF. 

chapiteris: chapters OF. 

chapman: merchant AS ceap + 

chapmanhode : trade, business 

charbocle: carbuncle OF char- 

chare: chariot OF char 

charg, charge sb. care, trouble, 
responsibility OF. 

charite: charity, love OF. 

Charles Olyver : Charlemagne's 
Olyver, a peer of France, brother- 
in-arms of Roland 

chasted pp. taught OF chastier 

chasteyn: chestnut OF chastaigne 

chastise inf. discipline OF. 

chastitee: chastity OF. 

chaunce: chance, incident OF. 

chaunge sb. exchange OF. 

chaunge inf. change 

chaungeable a. changeable, fickle 

chauntepleure : half joy, half sad 
ness, a song of alternate spirits 

chauntery sb. chantry, an endow 
ment to pay a priest to sing daily 
masses for the soul of the giver 
of the endowment, or of some 
one designated by him OF 

chayer: chair, palanquin OF 

cheep: market; greet cheep] low 
price, cheap (in modern sense) 
AS ceap m. 

cheere sb. cheer, manner, behavior, 
countenance OF chere 

chees 2 imp. choose; cf. chese 
chefe a. chief OF chef 
chek: "check!" in chess; check and 
mate] checkmate, a term in chess 
denoting that the king cannot 

be moved. This ends the game 
OF eschec 
cheke: cheeke-bone; pi. cheeks 

AS ceace f. 

chekkere s. chess-board OF. 
Chepe : Cheapside (market street) 

cher, chere : manner, look ; cf. 


cherisseth 3 pr. s. cherishes; cher 
ish imp. s. OF cheris- < cherir 
cherl: churl, base fellow, menial; 
cherles poss. used as ad. churlish 
AS ceorl 

cherlyssh: churlish 
cherubynnes poss. pi. the cheru 
bim were generally painted red 
in medieval pictures 
cheryse inf. cherish OF cheris- 
chese inf. choose; imp.; ches 1, 3 

pt. s. ; chose pp. AS ceosan 
chesse: game of chess OF. 
cheste: coffin AS cest 
chesynge: choosing 
chevache : journey a-horseback OF 

chevetayn: chieftain, leader OF 

chevise refl. do for herself OF 


chevyssaunce : contract for borrow 
ing money, note OF chevissance 

cheyne : chain ; cheynes pi. Zenobia 
was so weighed down with gold 
chains and gems that she could 
scarcely walk B 3554 OF 

Chichivache: the lean cow which, 
in the old fable, lived upon 
patient wives, and in consequence 
was always very lean OF. 
chidde 1 pt. s. chid; cf. chyde 
chiere: mien; cf. cheere OF. 
chiertee: regard, good-will OF. 
chiknes pi. chickens AS cicen 
Child, Childe: a title for a squire 
or a knight, as Childe Harold 
AS cild 

childely a. childish, immature 
childhede: childhood 
chirch, chirche: church AS cirice 
chirche-dore : church-door ; couples 
were married in the church-porch, 




and then entered the church for 

chirkyng : harsh noise, creaking AS 

chiste: chest AS cist 

chivalrie : knighthood, with its cus 
toms and ideals ; knightly prow 
ess; group of knights OF. 

choghe, chough : crow ; cf. AS ceo 

chose pp. chosen ; cf. chese 

choys: choice OF choix 

chuk : cluck, clucking noise 

chukketh 3 pr. s. clucks 

chyde : chide, scold ; chidde 1 pt. s. 
AS cidan 

chymbe : the rim of a barrel, stave 
ends AS cim 

chymbe inf. chime OF cymbe 
NF chimbe 

chyn : chin AS cin 

chyvachee : exploit a-horseback, 
military expedition OF che- 

Cibella: Cybele, Great Mother of 
the Gods 

Cilinios: Mercury, born on Mt. 
Cyllene in Greece 

Cipion: cf. Scipioun 

Cipre: Cyprus 

cipress, cipresse: cypress, the sym 
bol of mourning OF cypres 

Circes: Circe, the sorceress who 
turned Odysseus's companions 
into swine by an enchanted cry. 
Odysseus forced her to restore 
his companions 

circumstaunce : ceremony OF. 

Cirea: Cirra, a town near Parnas 

Cirus: Cyrus, king of Persia 

ciser: cider OF sisre 

citee : city OF cite 

Cithe, Cithea: Scythia 

Citherea : a name for Venus, who 
was fabled to have risen from 
the sea near the island of 

Citheroun : Cithaeron or Cythera, 
island sacred to Venus 

citole : a psaltery, a stringed instru 
ment OF. 

citryn a. citron, yellow OF citrin 

cladde 3 pt. s. clothes; cledde, 
clothed pp. AS (North) clsedde 

clamb 3 pt. s. climbed; cf. clymben 

clamour: clamor OF. 

clappe: noise, chatter; cf. Icel 


clappeth 3 pr. s. ; imp. pi. chatter 
clappyng: chattering 
clariounes: clarions, trumpets OF 

clarre: wine mixed with honey and 

spices, and strained "clear" AF 

clateren 3 pr. pi clatter; clatereden 

3 pt. pi. ; cf. AS clatrung, a rat 

claterynge : clattering 
Claudius: Marcus Claudius, the 

"cherl" of Appius Claudius 
Claudius: the second emperor of 

Rome 268-270 
Claudyan : Claudius Claudianus, 

author of "De Raptu Proser- 

pinae," about A. D. 400 
clawe inf. scratch, rub, stroke; 

clawed 3 pt. s. AS clawu f. 
cledde pp. covered 
cleer, cleere : clear, unspotted OF 


cleernesse: brightness, glory 
cleft 3 pt. s. split; cloven pp. AS 


clemence: clemency, pity OF. 
clene : clean, smooth, neat AS 


clenly: cleanly 
clennesse : cleanness, purity 
dense inf. cleanse AS clsensian 
Cleopataras: Cleopatra 
clepen inf. call ; clepith, clepeth 

3 pr. s. ; clepe 3 pr. pi. ; cleped 

pp. AS cleopian 
cler, clere a. clear OF cler 
clere ad. clearly 
clerer: clearer 

clergeon: chorister, choir-boy OF. 
clergye: learning OF. 
clerk: the term for a student in 

university, a scholar preparing 

for the priesthood, a learned 

man, or a man in holy orders 

AS clere 
Cliopatre: Cleopatra, queen of 


clippe : cut Icel klippa 
Clitermystra : Clytemnestra, wife of 




Agamemnon, slew him with the 

help of yEgisthus, her lover 
clobbed: clubbed 
cloistre : met, enclosure ; cf. cloystre 


cloke: cloak OF. 
clokke: clock; at the clokke] 

o'clock OF cloke 
clombe 1 pt. s. climbed; clombe, 

clomben pp. ; cf. clymben 
cloos inf. close; closed pp. OF 

clos < clore 
clooth: cloth, clothing; clooth of 

Tars] a kind of silk AS clatS m. 
clooth-makyng sb. cloth-making, 

an important industry in Western 


clos: close, yard OF clos 
clote-leef: leaf of burdock AS 


clothe: cloth 

clothered: clotted AS clott 
cloumbe pp. climbed 
clout: bit of cloth; cloutes pi. rags 

AS clut m. 

cloven pp. cleft, split 
clowde: cloud AS clud m. 
clowe-gylofre : clove OF clou 

cloysterer: a retiring, secluded 


cloystre sb. cloister OF cloistre 
clyffes pi. cliffs AS clif n. 
clymben inf. climb; clymbeth 3 pr. 

s. ; clombe 1 pt. s. ; clamb 3 pt. 

s. ; clomben, cloumbe pp. AS 


clymbyng: climbing, ambition 
clynkyn inf. ring; cf. Fries klinken 
clynkyng: jingling 
cod: bag, belly AS cod m. 
cofere, cofre : box, coffer, coffin 

OF cofre 

cok: cock (to awaken us) AS cocc 
cokewold : cuckold, deceived hus 
band OF cucualt 
cokkel: cockle, a weed AS coccel 
Cokkes: slang for Goddes 
cokkow: cuckoo OF cucu 
colblak: coal-black AS col 
colde: cold, fatal AS ceald 
coldes inf. make cold AS cealdkn 
cole sb. coal AS col n. 

cole a. cool, without imaginative 
fire AS col 

colera: choler, with blood made 
rede colera Lat cholera 

colered pp. collared, decked with 
a collar OF coler 

colerik: choleric, hot tempered OF 

colfox: fox tipped with black, as 
with coal 

collacioun: conference OF colla 

collect yeeris : anni collecti, a term 
for periods of years in round 
numbers (20, 40, 60, etc.) 

collusioun: plot OF. 

Coloigne: Cologne, where the bones 
of the three Wise Men of the 
East were said to be preserved 

colour, coloure: color, pretense; 
under colour] in the guise of, 
masked under P 66; colours: fine 
phrases E 16; colouris pi. OF. 

colpons: portions, bunches OF. 

coltes: colt's, frisky AS colt 

comande, comaunde inf. command, 
order OF comander 

comandement: command 

comandour: director 

comaundynge: commanding 

come sb. coming < AS cyme 

come inf. come ; cometh 3 pr. s. ; 
come pt. s., pp., pr. s. subj. ; 
cometh imp. < AS cuman 

comelely ad. handsomely, grace 
fully AS cymlic 

comelynesse: comeliness, beauty 

comende inf. commend OF com- 

commissioun sb. commission 

commune sb. the commons; com 
moners pi. OF. 

commune, comoun a. common ; 
in commune] commonly 

compaas, compas: circle, orbit OF. 

compaignye, companye: company, 
group, lovers OF compaignie 

comparisoun: comparison OF. 

compassioun: compassion OF. 

compassyng: contrivance 

compeer: comrade, gossip OF 

compilatour : compiler OF. 

complexioun ; complexion OF. 




compleyne inf. complain ; 2 pr. pi. 

compleynt: complaint, lament OF 

composicioun : agreement ; pi. elab 
orate arrangements OF. 

compowned pp. constructed, adapt 
ed Lat componere 

comprehende inf. understand, ap 
preciate; comprehendid pp. Lat 

comune a. accustomed (to) ; cf. 

comunly: commonly 

comyn, cumin: a spice OF cumin 

comyn inf. come ; comyth 3 pr. s. ; 
cf. come AS cuman 

concluden inf. conclude, include 
Lat concludere 

concubyn sb. concubine OF con 

condescende inf. stoop to OF 

condicion, condicioun : condition, 
stipulation, character OF. 

condicioneel: conditional OF con- 

confedred pp. confederated, united 
Lat confoederatus 

confermed pp. confirmed, decreed ; 
confermeth imp. pi. OF con- 

confessioun sb. confession ; power 
of confessioun] the right to hear 
confession OF. 

confiture : confection, compound 

confort: comfort OF. 

conforteth 3 pr. s. comforteth ; 
conforten pr. pi. 

confus: confused OF. 

congregacioun: assemblage OF. 

conjoynynge sb. conjunction 

conquereden 3 pt. pi. conquered 
OF conquerre 

conquerour: conqueror OF. 

conquerynge sb. conquest 

consaille 1 pr. s. counsel OF con- 

conscience: pity, sympathy OF. 

consecrat: consecrated Lat conse- 

conseil sb. council, counsel, secret 
counsel, secret, counsellor OF. 

conseille inf. counsel OF con- 


conseillyng sb. counsel 
consentant of: accomplices in OF. 
consente inf. agree to OF con- 


conserve 2 imp. s. preserve OF. 
conseyve inf. understand OF con- 

considere 1 pr. s., imp. consider 

OF considerer 

consistorie : place of judgment OF. 
consolacioun : consolation OF. 
conspiracie: plot OF. 
constable: governor; constablesse 

f. OF conestable 
Constance: constancy OF. 
Constantyn: Constantinus Afer, a 

monk of Monte Cassino, founder 

of school of Salermo, eleventh 


constellacioun: constellation OF. 
constreyneth 3 pr. s. constrains; 

constreyned pp. OF constraindre 
contek: strife OF contec 
contenance, contenaunce : counte- 

naunce, demeanor; sign OF. 
continued: continual OF. 
contraire, contrarie sb. adversary, 

opposite OF. 

contrarien inf. oppose AF con 

contrarius: opposite 
contrarye a. contrary 
contre, contree, contrey: country, 

district OF contree 
contynue: encourage, further OF 

converte : turn, change ; convert- 

ynge p. OF convertir 
convoyen inf. convey ; convoyen 

his mateere] give his informa 
tion ; convoyed pp. accompanied 

OF conveier 

conyes: rabbits OF conil 
coold a. cold AS ceald 
coomb: comb (of a cock) AS 


coome 3 pr. s. subj. ; cf. come 
coomen 3 pt. pi. came 
coost, cost: coast, countryside; 

by the cost] along the coast OF 

coote: coat OF cote 




cop sb. top AS cop 

cope sb. priest's cloak AS cape 

coppe : cup, measure ; withouten 

coppe] without stint AS cuppe f. 
corage : heart, spirit, disposition 


corageus: courageous OF corageos 
corde sb. cord OF. 
Cordewane: Cordovan leather OF 

cordial: gold, in the form of aurum 

potabile, was used in medicine. 

Chaucer's play upon words is 

obvious Lat cordialis 
cormeraunt: cormorant OF cor- 

come: corn, grain (not the Indian 

corn of America), wheat, best 

part; pi. fields of corn AS 

corn n. 
corniculer: secretary Lat corni- 


corny: strong of corn or malt 
corone: garland Lat. 
coroned pp. crowned OF coroner 
coroune: crown OF corone 
corowne: crown 
corps: corpse OF. 
corpus: body; corpus dominus: for 

corpus domini, the Lord's body 
correccioun : correction, punishment 

corrumpable: corruptible OF cor- 


corrupcioun: corruption OF. 
corrupteth pr. s. becomes corrupt ; 

corrupt pp. Lat. 
cors: corpse OF. 
corsed pp. accursed AS cursian 
Corynne: Corinna, Ovid's mistress, 

celebrated in his "Amores," the 

source of "Anelida and Arcite" 
cost: choice, condition; nedes cost] 

of necessity OF cost 
costage: cost, expense OF. 
costes for to quite: to pay expenses 
coste: inf.; pt. s. cost OF coster 
cosyn: cousin OF cosin 
cotage: cottage AS cot + -age 
cote sb. coat OF. 
cote: cot, cottage, dungeon AS 

cote-armure, cote-armour: the coat 

or vest worn over the armor, 
embroidered with the knight's 
armorial bearings 

couche sb. bed OF. 

couche inf. cower, lie, set; 
couchede 3 pt. s. set in order; 
couched pp. laid, studded, beset 
OF coucher 

coude pt. s. could ; cf. konne 

counseyl sb. counsel; cf. conseil 

counted, counte pt. s. counted, 
cared OF center 

countenaunce: looks, facial expres 
sion; OF contenance 

counter, countour: one who counts, 
mathematician Du 435 ; abacus, 
or counting board Du 436 ; ac 
countant or auditor A 359 

counterfete, countrefete inf. coun 
terfeit OF contrefait pp. 

countesse: countess OF. 

countretaille : at the countretaillel 
in reply OF contretaille 

countyrpletyd pp. pleaded against 
OF centre + plaidier 

cours : course, orbit, way, course 
(of a meal) OF. 

courseres: coursers, war-horses 
OF coursier 

courtepy sb. short coarse cloak 
Du kort "short" + pije "coarse 

couthe 1 pt. s. could, knew ; 
known pp. 

coveiteth: covets; cf. coveten AF 

coveitise, coveityse, coveytyse : 
covetousness, greed OF coveitise 

covenable: natural, proper, fit OF. 

covenant sb. agreement ; coven- 
antz pi. OF. 

covent: convent OF. 

coverchief: kerchief or head cov 
ering OF couvrechef 

coveten inf. covet; coveiteth pr. s. 
OF coveiter 

covyne sb. deceitful agreement of 
two men against a third; covin 
(law term) conspiracy OF covin 

cow: chough, jackdaw; cf. AS ceo 

cowardye: cowardice OF couardie . 

cowntenaunce : appearance OF. 

coyn, coyne: coin OF coin, coign 


cracchynge: scratching orig. un- 

cert. ; cf. MS scratten 
cradel sb. cradle AS cradol 
craft, crafte sb. skill, cunning, art, 

profession, trade AS crseft 
craftier : more crafty 
crafty: crafty, skilful 
craumpisshed : cramped, paralyzed 

OF crampe 

creacioun: creation OF creation 
creance: belief, faith, object of 

belief OF creance 
creat pp. created Lat creatus 
creatour: Creator OF creatour 
creest: crest OF creste 
creature: creature, person OF. 
Creon: tyrant of Thebes 
crepe inf. creep ; crepeth 3 pr. s. ; 

crepte 3 pt. s. ; cropen pp. AS 

Cresus: Crresus, king of Lydia, 

famed for his wealth, and for 

his unhappy downfall 
crewel: cruel OF cruel 
creweltee : cruelty OF cruelte 
cri sb. cry OF cri 
crien inf. cry, cry for ; crien 3 pr. 

pi. ; crye 2 pr pi. ; cridestow 2 

pt. s. did you cry ; cride, cried 

3 pt. s. ; criden, crieden, criedyn, 

crydon, cryede 3 pt. pi. ; crie imp. 

OF crier 
Crisippus: Chrysippus, name of 

some Greek philosopher, men 
tioned by Jerome 
crisp, crispe : curly AS crisp 
Crisseyde: "Troilus and Criseyde," 

Chaucer's poem 
cristal stones: glass cases 
Cristemasse : Christmas AS cristes 

cristen, cristene a. Christian AS 

cristendom: the Christian faith B 

351 Christian lands AS. 
cristenly : as a Christian 
Cristes poss. Christ's 
cristned pp. christened AS crist- 

Cristophere : a small figure of St. 

Christopher was frequently worn 

for good luck 

cristyanytee : company of Chris 


criynge p. crying 

croce: stick, staff OF croce 

croked: crooked, wrong ME crok 

+ ed 

crookedly : crookedly 
crokke: crock, jar AS crocca 
crommes: crumbs AS criima 
cronycle sb. chronicle OF cron- 


cropen pp. crawled ; cf. crepe 
croper: crupper OF cropere 
croppe: top, sprout, branch end, 

crop, fruit AS cropp m. 
croude inf. drive out AS crudan 
crouned, crowned pp. OF coroner 
crowdyng: pushing 
crowe sb. crow AS crawe f. 
crowe inf. crow ; croweth 3 pr. s. 

refl. ; crew 3 pt. s. AS crawan 
croys sb. cross OF crois 
crueel: cruel OF. 
crueltee : cruelty 
crulle a. pi. curled ON kurle 
cryature : person ; cf. creature 
crydon, cryede 3 pt. pi. cried ; cf. 


cryke sb. creek OF crique 
cubites: cubits Lat cubitus 
cum of: come away, cease (jocu 

cumpas: a circle OF compas 
cunne 3 pr. pi. know how ; cf. 

conne AS cunnan 
cuntre-houses: native homes 
Cupide, Cupido: Cupid, God of 

Love, represented as a young 

nian in Chaucer 
cuppe: cup AS cuppe f. 
curat sb. curate, parish priest Lat 

cure sb. cure, remedy, care, heed, 

diligence; diden cure] were busy; 

take no cure] care not OF cure 
curios, curious a. careful, skilful 

OF curios 

curre: cur Scan kurre 
curs sb. curse AS curs 
cursede a. accursed 
cursen inf. curse, excommuni 

AS cursian 

cursydnesse: curse, sin 
cursyng: cursing 
curteis a. courteous OF curteis 





curteisie, curteysie, curtesye sb. 

courtesy, ways of court OF. 
curtyn: curtain OF curtine 
curyosytee: subtle care OF curi- 

curyus: carefully wrought OF 


Custance : Constance 
custume: custom OF custume 
cut: lot; cf. W. cuturs, a lot 
cynk: cinq, five OF cinq 
Cypride: Venus, born at Paphos 

in Cyprus 
Cypyon : Scipio 
Cytherea: Venus; cf. Citherea 

daggere: dagger F dague 

daisie: daisy AS daegesege 

daliaunce: friendly talk, gossip OF 

Dalida: Delilah, the Philistine 
woman who discovered the secret 
of Samson's strength and be 
trayed him to the Philistines ; 
cf. Judges xvi. 

damage: pity OF. 

Damascien: Johannes Damascenus, 
Arabian physician of probably 
the ninth century 

dame: mother, goodwife ; madame] 
madam OF. 

damoysele : damsel OF damoisele 

dampnable : damnable OF damn 

dampnacioun: damnation OF 

dampned pp. condemned OF 

Damyssene: Damascene; Eden was 
thought to have been near 

Dane: Daphne, pursued by Apollo, 
was saved from him by being 
turned into a laurel tree. Hence 
the laurel is Apollo's tree 

Dant, Dante: Dante Alighieri, 
1265-1321, Italian poet, wrote 
"Divina Commedia" 

Danyel: Daniel 

dappull-gray : dapple-gray Icel 
depill "spot" 

dar 1, 3 pr. s. dare; darst 2 pr. s. ; 

dorste, durst, durste pr., pt., pr. 
subj. AS dear 

Dares Frygius: Dares the Phry 
gian. He is mentioned together 
with Dictys Cretensis, as the 
source of the history of the Tro 
jan War written by Guido delle 
Colonne, who really took his 
material from the Roman du 
Troie of Benoit de Sainte-Maure. 
Guide's history was popular ; 
Chaucer uses material from it 

darreyne inf. to decide one's claim 
to OF deraisnier 

dart, dartis pi. dart, spear, set up 
as prize in races OF dart 

Daryus: Darius, king of Persia 

daswen 3 pr. pi. blink; cf. daze 

daun, dan: sir, a title of respect 
OF dan 

daunce sb. dance ; olde daunce] 
old sport OF dance 

dauncen inf. dance; daunsith 3 pr. 
s. ; daunsedyn 3 pt. pi. OF 

daunger: peril, penalty, control, 
power OF dangier 

daungerous: masterful, threatening 
OF dangeros 

daunsedyn 3 pt. pi. danced ; cf. 

daunsith 3 pr. s. dances ; cf. 

daunsynge p. dancing 

daunte imp. s. rule ; dauntist 2 pr. 
s. AF daunter 

dawe inf. dawn ; daweth 3 pr. s. ; 
dawed pp. AS dagian 

dawenynge sb. dawn, daybreak 

dawes: days AS dagas 

dayerye: dairy AS daege "dairy 
maid" -f F. erie 

dayeseye, dayseie, dayesyis, day- 
syes pi. daisy AS daegesege 

de Casibus Virorum Illustrium: on 
the falls of famous men (from 
good fortune), a work by Gio 
vanni Boccaccio, upon which 
model the "Monkes Tale" is 

de owter mere : from over sea, im 




debaat sb. contest, conflict OF 

debate inf. fight OF debatre 

debonaire a. gentle, gracious; as s. 
courteous person OF. 

debonairly : debonairely, graciously 

debonairyete : gentleness, gracious- 
ness OF. 

declare inf. declare OF. 

declinacioun: angle of the sun in 
the ecliptic OF. 

ded, dede, deed a. dead, deadly ; 
be deed] be slain AS dead 

Dedalus: Dsedalus, legendary artist 
and mechanician of Greece, 
chiefly noted for his attempt to 
fly by means of attached wings. 
Mentioned as a typical mechani 
cian, whose mechanical skill can 
not help the mourner 

dede: deed, act; with the dede] as 
soon as it is done AS daed f. 

dede 3 pt. s. did ; cf. doon 

dede pp. died ; cf. dye 

dedely, dedly: deadly, mortal 

deduyt: delight OF deduit 

deedly: death-like 

deef: deaf AS deaf 

deel, del, dele : part, share AS 
dael m. 

deelen inf. deal AS dselan 

dees: dice OF det, pi. dez 

deeth sb. death; the death] the 
pestilence AS deao" m. 

defame sb. dishonor OF defamer 

defaulte: fault, check (hunting 
term) ; lack OF defaute 

deffenden inf. forbid OF defendre 

deffye, defye 1 pr. s. defy F deffier 

degree: rank in life, step OF. 

deiedyn 3 pt. pi. died ; cf. dye 

deite, deitee : deity OF. 

deknes: deacons AS deacon 

del, dele: part, share; every del] 
wholly ; never a dele] not a bit ; 
cf. deel 

deliberacioun : deliberation OF 

delicaat: delicate, dainty Lat deli- 

delicasye : wantonness, vain delight 
OF delicacie 

delices: delights Lat deliciae 

delit, delite sb. delight, pleasure 

OF delit 

delitable: delectable, pleasing OF. 
delite inf. delight OF deleitier 

3 pr. s. delite 

delivere inf. free OF delivrer 
Delphos: ace. form of Delphi, 

famous for Apollo's temple 
delve inf. dig; dolven pp. AS 


Delyt: pers. Delight; cf. delit 
delyvere a. active OF delivre 
delyvered pp. set free; cf. delivere 
dely verly : with dexterity 
demande s. question OF de- 

demen inf. imagine, judge, decide 

AS deman 

Demetrius: king of the Parthians 
Demociones : of Demotion, a Greek 
demeyne: dominion OF demaine 
Demophoun : Demophoon ; cf. 

dempne 1 pr. s. despise, damn OF 


demyn inf. .deem, judge ; cf. demen 
dennes pi. dens AS denn n. 
depardieux : in God's name 
departe inf. part, separate, leave; 

departen 1 pr. pi. OF departir 
departynge sb. departure 
depe a. deep AS deop 
depe ad. deeply 
Depeford: Deptford, about three 

miles from Southwark 
depeynted pp. depicted OF de- 


depper: deeper 
depryved pp. deprived OF de- 


dere a. dear AS deore 
dere ad. dearly 
dere inf. harm AS derian 
derke a. dark AS deorc 
derke sb. darkness 
derkeste: darkest 
derre: dearer 

Dertemouthe: Dartmouth, in Dev 
deryveth 3 pr. s. is derived OF 

desclaundred pp. slandered OF 





descresyoun: discretion OF discre 

descripcioun, discripsioun: descrip 
tion OF description 
desdeyn sb. disdain OF desdein 
desdeyne inf. disdain OF des- 

desever: dissever, part OF des- 


dcseyte: deceit OF deceite 
desir sb. desire OF. 
desire inf. desire OF desirer 
desirus, desirous a. desirous OF 


desirynge : yearning 
desolat: dejected, weakest of in 
fluence, forsaken OF. 
despence: support OF dispense 
despendest 2 pr. s. wasteth OF 

despeyred pp. sunk in despair OB' 

despit sb. spite, contempt, act of 

despite OF. 
despitous: merciless, contemptuous, 

angry OF despitos 
despitously : pitilessly 
desplayeth 3 pr. s. displays OF 

desport: amusement, sport; cf. OF 

se desporter 
destene : cf. disteyne 
destinee: destiny OF destinee 
destourbe inf. destourbe of] hinder 

in OF destourber 
destourbing: disturbance 
destreyneth 3 pr. s. oppresses OF 

destroubled pp. troubled, disturbed 

OF destroubler 

destroyeth: ruins OF destruire 
destruccioun : destruction OF des 

Desyr: pers. Desire 
deth, dethe: deat!i 
dette: debt OF dette 
dettelees a. free from debt 
dettour: debtor OF. 
deve a. pi. deaf AS deaf 
devele way a. to the devil ! AS 


devisioun: division, party; of my 
devisioun] under my influence 
OF division 

devocioun: devotion OF devotion 
devoir: duty OF. 
devoutely: devoutly OF devote 
devyne inf. divine, predict OF 

devys sb. device, direction OF 

devis m. 
devysen inf. imagine, tell ; devyse 

1 pr. s. OF deviser 
dewe: dew AS deaw m. and n. 

(wa- stem) 

dextrer: courser OF destrier 
dey, deye inf. die; deyde, deyede 

3 pt. Scan. 

deye: dairymaid AS daege f. 
deyne inf. deign ; deyned, deynid 
3 pt. s. refl. OF digner, deigne 
3 pr. s. 

deynge p. dying 
deyntee a. dainty, pleasant, high 

bred OF deintie 
deyntee sb. regard, estimation, 

desire; pi. dainties 
deyntevous: dainty 
deys sb. dais, platform OF deis 
Deyscorides: Dioscorides, Greek 
physician and botanist of the sec 
ond century 
deyynge: dying 

Dianira, Dianyre: Deianira, jilted 
by Hercules, sent him a poisoned 
shirt, which consumed him when 
put on 

dide 3 subj. did; cf. doon 
Dido: queen of Carthage, heroine 

of the "yEneid" 
diete sb. diet OF diete 
diffame: ill repute OF diffamer 
diffens: defence OF defense 
difnnicioun: definite order Lat 


diffye inf. defy, despise F deffier 
diffyne inf. declare plainly OF 


diffynytyve: final, definite 
digestioun: digestion OF diges 

digestyves: aids to digestion OF. 
dighte inf. prepare, serve, deco 
rate ; 3 pt. s. ; dight pp. AS 

digne a. worthy, proud, distant 




dignitee: worth, rank, dignity OF 

deintie Lat dignitas 
dilatacioun : delay Lat dilatio 
diocise: diocese OF diocese 
Diogenes: Diogenes, Greek phi 
losopher in Alexander's time 
direct: directed Lat directus 
dirke: dark AS deorc 
dirkenesse : darkness 
discensioun: dissension OF. 
discerne inf. discern OF dis- 


disceyvable: deceitful F decevable 
dischevele : disheveled, disar 
ranged, with hair flowing loosely 
OF descheveler 
disconfiture: defeat OF. 
disconfitynge : discomfiture OF 


disconfort: discomfort, discourage 
ment OF desconfort 
disconforten inf. discourage 
discrecioun: discretion OF dis 

discret: discreet 

discripsioun: description OF de 
discryven inf. describe OF de- 

discure inf. reveal, disclose OF 

discussid : pp. discussed Lat dis- 


disese: discomfort OF desaise 
disespaired pp. hopeless OF 

disfigurat: ugly OF desfigurer + 

Lat suff. atus 
disfigure sb. deformity 
disgysed pp. disguised OF des- 

disherited pp. disinherited OF 

dishobeysaunt: disobedient OF 

dishonour sb. disgrace OF des- 


disjoynt sb. trouble OF desjoinct 

diskryve inf. describe; ef. discryve 

dismalle s. unlucky day. Dismal 

comes through French from the 

Latin dies malus, evil day. Later 

the -al suffix caused it to be 

used as an adjective. The days 

of the ten plagues of Egypt were 
considered as unlucky. Unlucky 
days were also called ^gyptiaci 

disparage sb. disgrace OF des 

disparaged pp. misallied 

dispeir sb. despair OF despoir 

dispence : expenditure, extrava 
gance OF dispense 

dispend inf. spend OF dispendre 
< Lat. 

dispensacioun: dispensation 

dispeyred: despairing 

dispise inf. despise OF despire 

dispit sb. despite OF despit 

dispitouse: cruel; cf. despitous OF 

dispitously ad. angrily 

displesance, displesaunce : annoy 
ance, displeasure OF desplai- 

displese inf. displease OF de- 

dispoillen inf. despoil OF despoil- 

disport sb. sport OF. 

disporte inf. amuse OF se des- 

disposed pp. in condition, health 
OF disposer 

disposicioun : disposition, situation ; 
character as determined by posi 
tion of planet OF disposicion 

disputisoun: dispute OF. 

dissencioun : strife 

disserved 'pp. deserved OF deser- 

dissever inf. dissever, part OF 

dissimulour: dissimulater, liar OF 


dissymulynges : pretences 
distaf: distaff AS distaef 
disteyne, dysteyne inf. cf. destene 
bedim, take away the color of 
OF desteindre 
distraynyth: clutches; cf. distreyne 

OF destraindre 
distresse : distress, trouble, sorrow 

OF destrecier 
distreyne inf. constrain 
disturbance: trouble OF destour- 




divers, dy verse: different, changed 

divinistre: diviner, prophet OF < 

divisioun: distinction, sect OF 

divisynge : devising 

divyn: divine OF divin 

diyng: dying 

do, doo, don, doon inf., imp. have, 
cause to be; cf. doon AS don 

doctour: doctor; doctour of Phisik] 
physician ; Augustine, the "holy 
doctor" of the Middle Ages OF. 

doctrine: learning, instructive tales 
or speech OF. 

does sb. pi. does AS da 

dogerel: doggerel < dog 

dogges: dogs AS dogga 

doghter: daughter; poss. daugh 
ter's AS dohtor 

doghty: strong, valiant AS dohtig 

doke: duck AS duce f. 

dokked pp. cut close; cf. Icel 
dockr short tail 

dolven : buried ; cf. delven 

dom, doom: judgment; to my dom] 
in my opinion AS dom 

domesman: judge AS. 

dominacioun : control, power AS 

Donegild: mother of King Alia 

dong sb. manure ; donge dat. AS 

donge inf. cover with manure 

dongeoun: dungeon, donjon OF 

donghil : dunghill 

doom: judgment, decision; cf. dom 

doon, doone, done, doo, do inf. do, 
cause, make for; doon wroght] 
caused to be made; for to doone] 
proper ; doth, dooth 3 pr. s. ; 
dooth for to] causes to ; doth 
me dye] slays me ; don 2 pr. pi. ; 
did, dede, dyd 3 pt. s. ; did of] 
took off ; dide 3 pr. subj. ; done 
pp. AS don; cf. Appendix 

dore: door AS duru f. 

Dorigene: wife of Arveragus < 
Celt Drognen 

dormant: permanent; cf. table OF. 

dorste 3 pt. s. dared ; cf. dar 

dotage: dotage, folly OF. 

doted pp. doting OF doter 
doubelyth 3 pr. s. doubles OF 


double: deceitful OF doble 
doughter: daughter AS dohtor 
doughtyr : daughter, Pleasure, 

daughter of Cupid 
doumb a. dumb AS dumb 
doun ad. down AS of-dune 
doune prep, down 
dounward: downward 
doute sb. doubt, fear OF doute 
douteless: doubtless 
dowaire: dowry OF doaire 
dowbilnesse, dowblenesse : duplic 

dowere: dowry OF doaire 
downe sb. down, upland region 

AS dun 
downe sb. down, soft feathers 

Icel dunn 
dowve : dove (pigeon) ; dowvis pi. 

AS dufe 

doynge : act, deed 
draf: refuse, chaff orig. uncert. 
dragoun: dragon (cited in Eccle- 

siasticus xxv. 16 Sk.) OF dragon 
drasty: filthy AS < docrstan + ig 
draughte : draught ; move at chess 

AS dragan, "drow," "move" 
drawen inf. draw, incline, carry, 

bring, recall; drough, drow pt. s. 

drawe pp. drawn, moved in a 

game; drawe the same draught] 

made the same move AS dragan 
drecched pp. bored, troubled AS 

drede sb. fear, doubt, hesitation ; 

withoute drede] doubtless, surely 

AS drsedan 
drede inf. be afraid, fear; drede 

1 pr. s. ; dreddest 2 pt. s. ; drad, 

dradde, dredde 3 pt. s. ; dradden 

3 pt. pi. subj. ; drad pp. AS 


dredeful: fearful, cautious- 
dredeles, dredles ad. without 

dread, fearlessly, certainly 
dreem, drem sb. dream AS 

dreint 3 pt. s. drowned; cf. 

drenche AS drencan 
dremed 1 pt. s. dreamed 
dremyth 3 pr. s. dreameth 




drenche inf. drown ; dreint 3 pt. s. ; 

dreynte pp. AS drencan 
drenchyng : drowning 
drery: dreary, sad AS dreorig 
dresse inf., 3 pr. pi. fit up; ar 
range, make ready OF dresser 
drewh 3 pt. s. drew, attracted 
drevyne pp. driven 
dreye: dry AS dryge 
dreynte pp. drowned ; cf. drenche 
drive inf. drive; drive away] pass 

away AS drifan 
drofe 3 pt. s. drove; cf. dryven 
drogges sb. pi. drugs OF drogue 
drogthe sb. drought, dryness AS 

dronkelewe: a drunkard, drunken 

+ Isewe AS suff. 
dronken 1 pt. pi. drank ; pp. ; 

dronke pp. cf. drynken 
dronkenesse : drunkenness 
drope sb. drop AS dropa m. 
droppyng: leaking 
drough 3 pt. s. drew ; cf. drawe 
drouped 3 pt. pi drooped Icel 

drow pt. s. drew, drew near ; cf. 

drugge inf. drudge orig. uncert. ; 

cf. AS dreogan 
drye a. dry, dried up, wizened; 

drye se] ; cf. Carrenare AS drige 
drye 1 pr. s., 3 pt. pi. endure AS 


drynke sb. drink AS drincan 
drynken inf. drink; dronken pt. 

pi., pp ; dronke pp. 
dryve inf. drive, compel ; drofe 3 

pt. s. ; dryven pp. AS drifan 
due: duke OF. 
duchesse : duchess OF. 
duel, duelle inf. dwell, remain ; cf. 

dwelle AS dwellan 
duetee : duty AF duete 
duewe: due OF deu ; cf. deue 
dul, dulle a. dull; cf. AS dol 
dulnesse : dullness 
Dun is in the Myre : an old game ; 

serving-men attempting to drag 

the "horse" (a log of wood) 

along a kitchen floor. Dun 

The dun horse 
Dunmowe : a village in Essex, 

where a flitch of bacon was yearly 

offered to the couple who could 

prove their first year and day of 

marriage happily spent 
dunne a. dun, dark AS dunn 
duracioun: duration OF duration 
dure inf. endure, last OF durer 
durst, durste 1 pr. s., pt. s. subj., 

dare ; cf. dar 

duszeyne: dozen OF dosaine 
dwellen inf. 3 pr. pi dwell, delay; 

dwelled, dwelte 3 pt. s. AS 


dwellynge sb. residence 
dyademe: diadem, crown OF dia- 

dyamauntz: diamonds OF dia- 

Dyane: Diana, goddess of chastity 

and of hunting 
dyapred pp. diversified with figures 

OF diapre 

dych sb. ditch AS die, dat. dice 
dyched pp. ditched, moated 
dyd pt. s. did; cf. doon 
dyde 3 pr. s. subj. should die; cf. 

Dydo : Dido of Carthage, who slew 

herself for grief and anger when 

her lover, vEneas, secretly de 
serted her 
dye inf. die ; dyde, dyed pt. s. ; 

deiedyn 3 pt. pi. ; dede pp. Icel 

dye 3 pr. pi. dye; dyed 3 pt. s., 

pp. AS deagian 
dyere: dyer 

dyke inf. ditch AS die 
dynt: stroke AS dynt 
dys pi. dice OF det, pi. dez 
dyvers, dyverse a. diverse, various 
dyvded pp. divided 
dyvyne a. divine 
dyvynynge p. foretelling 
dyvynys: divines, theologians 

ealyth 3 pr. s. ails AS eglan 
ease inf. ease OF aise 
eate inf. eat AS etan 
ebbe sb. ebb-tide AS ebba 
ebbe inf. ebb AS ebbian 
Ebrayk: Hebrew OF ebraique 
Ebrew : Hebrew 
ebrought pp. brought ; cf. brynge 




Ecclesiaste : Ecclesiastes, a book of 

the Bible (xxv. 25) 
Ecclesiaste: Ecclesiasticus, one of 
the books of the Apocrypha 
(xii. 10) 

ecclesiaste: prelate OF. 
ech, eche a. each ; ech a] every 

AS Sic 

echon : each one, each 
Eclympasteyre : son of the. god of 


ecome pp. come 

Ecquo : Echo, who fell in love with 
Narcissus. When he slighted her 
love, she pined away until only 
her voice was left 
Ector: Hector, son of King Priam 
of Troy, chief fighter on the 
Trojan side 
edrawe pp. drawn 
eek, eke, ek: eke, also AS eac 
eelde, elde: age, time AS aeldu, 


eere pi. ears AS eare n. 
eerly: early AS serlice 
eeste: east AS east 
effect: fact AF. 
eft, efte ad. again, another time 

AS eft 
eft-soones: eftsoon, again AS eft 

+ sona 
Egeus: king of Athens and father 

of Theseus 

egge: edge AS ecg f. 
eggement: egging 
Egipcien : Egyptian 
Egipte: Egypt 

egle: eagle; eglis pi. AF egle 
ego pp. gone 

egre: sour, bitter, sharp AF egre 
eighe : eye AS cage n. 
eightetethe : eighteenth 
eir: air OF air 
ek: eke, also; cf. eek 
Ekko; cf. Ecquo 
eknowe pp. known 
elde : age ; cf . eelde 
eldres pi. ancestors AS yldra 
eleccioun: selection OF election 
element: element. In Chaucer's 
time all matter was thought to 
be composed of the four ele 
ments : earth, air, fire, and water 

elenge: tedious, unendurable AS 


Eleyne: Helen, wife of Menelaus 
of Sparta. She was seduced by 
Paris, q. v., and this caused the 
Trojan war 

elf: sprite, witch AS aelf 
elf-queene : fairy queen 
EHachim : priest of Bethulia 
Elicon: Mt. Helicon, confused with 
some fountain sacred to Apollo 
(Hippocrene, Castalia) 
elis: eels AS xl m. 
ellas: alas! cf. F helas 
ellebor: hellebore, an herb OF 


elles, ellis: else AS elles 
eloquence: eloquence OF. 
Elpheta: wife of Cambynskan 
elves; cf. elf 

elvyssh: elf-like, reserved, shy 
embassadour: ambassador OF. 
embassadrye: diplomacy OF. 
embosed pp. embossed, plunged 
into the thick woods OF em- 

embrace inf. hold OF embracer 
embrouded pp. embroidered OF 


Emeleward: toward Aemilia, dis 
trict in N. Italy 
Emelye: sister of Hippolyta 
emeraude, emeroude : emerald MF 

Emetreus: king of India, who 

fought with Arcita 
emforth prep, to the extent of AS 

em = efen + forS 
emperesse, emperice, emperise, em- 

perisse: empress OF. 
emperoures pi. emperors OF 

empoysoned pp. poisoned OF 

empoysonere: poisoner 
empoysonyng sb. poisoning 
emprenteth 2 imp. pi. imprint; 

emprented pp. OF empreindre 
emprentyng sb. impression 
emprise: enterprise, undertaking 

OF emprise 

enbaumme : embalm OF embaumer 
enbrace inf. embrace; enbraceth 
pr. s. OF embrace 




encens sb. incense OF. 
encense inf. cast incense 
enchauntement s. enchantment 

encheson: occasion, reason OF 

enclyne inf. bow, stimulate ; 

enclyned pp. inclined OF 

encomberous: burdensome < OF 

encombred pp. encumbered, caught 

OF encombrer 

encrees sb. increase AF encrestre 
encrese inf. increase ; encreseth, 

encresseth 3 pr. s. ; encresede 3 

pt. s. ; encressed pp. 
ende: end AS ende m. 
endelees: endless 
endelong ad. lengthwise, along 
endelong prep, along 
endere sb. ender 
endite inf. write, compose OF 

endure inf. endure, live OF 


endytyng: mode of writing 
Eneas: yneas, hero of the yEneid 

of Virgil; cf. Dido 
enemyte : enmity AF enemite 
Eneydos: the /Eneid (quoted in 

gen. case) 

enforce inf. strengthen OF en 

enformed pp. informed OF en- 
enfortuned: devised OF enfbrtu- 

engendre inf. procreate, produce; 

engendred 3 pt. pi. ; engendred 

pp.; engenderede, engendrid OF 


engendrure: propagation OF. 
engin: skill, genius OF. 
Englis, Englissh: English 
engyn: machine OF engin 
engyned pp. tortured 
enhauncen inf. raise, promote ; 

enhaunsed pp. OF enhancier 
enhorte inf. exhort OF enhorter 
enlumyned 3 pt. s. illumined OF 

enoynt pp. anointed OF enoint 


enquere inf. inquire OF enquerre 

enquerynge : inquiry 

ensample: example, sample OF 

ensure inf. pledge, engage one's 
self, take security for OF en + 

entencioun: intention OF enten- 

entende inf. give attention to, 
strive OF entendre 

entent, entente: intent, intention, 
will; doo thyn entent] be intent, 
give heed ; in good entente] with 
resignation OF entent 

entewnes pi. tunes OF entones 

entirmes: entremet, dish served 
between courses OF entremet 

entirmetyn: (of) middle, mix one's 
self (in) ; cf. entremette 

entraille: entrails OF. 

entre inf. enter OF entrer 

entree: entrance OF entre 

entremette inf. interrupt OF 

entrikyth pr. s. snares __ OF 

entuned pp. intoned OF entoner 

entytlt pp. entitled F en -j- title 

envenyme inf. poison OF en- 

envoluped pp. enveloped, en 
wrapped OF envoluper 

envye sb. envy, hatred OF envie 

envye inf. vie, strive, envy OF 

envyned pp. stored with wine 
F envine 

envyous: envious OF envios 

eny: any AS senig 

eonde 1 pr. s. end ; cf. ende 

Epicurus : Greek philosopher, whose 
doctrine was that pleasure is the 
chief good in life 

Epistelle of Ovyde: Ovid's "Epis- 
tolse," or Heroides, a series of 
poetical letters supposedly ad 
dressed by unfortunate women 
to their lovers 

equacions: equations, exact quan 
tities Lat sequationem 

equynoxial : equinoxial circle F. 

equitee : equity, fairness OF eauite 




er conj. ere, before; er that: 
before AS aer 

er prep, before 

er, ere sb. ear; ear (of corn) AS 
ear n. 

erande: errand AS aerende n. 

erbe : herb F herbe 

erber: arbor OF herbier 

erchedekenes poss. archdeacon ; 
erchedekenes curs] excommuni 
cation ; purs is the erchedekenes 
helle] the archdeacon would pun 
ish him in his purse; i.e., he 
could avoid the curse by giving 
money arch -f- AS deacon 

Ercules: Hercules, famed for his 
feats of strength. He rescued 
Alcestes from Hades 

ere inf. plough AS erian 

eresye: heresy OF heresie 

Eriphilem: ace. case of Eriphyle, 
wife of Amphiaraus 

erl: earl AS eorl 

erly ad. early AS aerlice 

erme inf. feel pain, grieve AS 

Ermony : Armenia 

Ermyn : Armenian 

ernest sb. a serious matter; ernest 
of game] seriousness out of sport 
AS eornost 

errante, erraunt a. wandering, 
stray; near middle of chess-board 
OF errant 

Erro: Hero; cf. Leandre 

errour: error, doubt OF. 

erst: first, at first AS serest 

ert: art 

erthe: earth AS eortSe f. 

erthely: earthly 

erys pi. ears AS eare 

escapen inf. escape AF escaper 

eschaunge sb. exchange; in es- 
chaunge shuldes selle] profit by 
the different rates of exchange 
in the different money-markets 
OF eschange 

eschue inf. eschew, shun AF 

Esculapius: the Greek god of medi 
cine, son of Apollo 

ese sb. ease OF aise 

esc inf. ease, help, accommodate, 

compensate; esed atte beste] 
given the best possible service 

esily ad. with ease 

espye sb. spy OF espie 

espye inf. spy, find out OF espier 

est, eest sb. east; ad. eastward 

estaat, estat: estate, rank, dignity, 
condition OF estat 

estatlich a. stately 

estatly ad. with dignity 

Ester: Esther 

Estoryal Myrour: Speculum His- 
toriale of Vincent, q. v. 

estres: parts, nature OF estre "to 
be," then "state," "part," "divi 

estward : eastward 

esy: easy, mild OF aisie 

etc inf. eat ; etyn 3 pr. pi. ; eet 
3 pt. s. ate; etc, eten pp. AS 

eterne a. eternal OF. 

Etike: the "Ethics" of Aristotle, 
in which virtue is represented as 
a mean between two extremes 

etyn 3 pr. pi. eat 

Eva : Eve 

Evangeliset: Evangelist, writer of 

evaungiles: The Gospels OF evan- 

eve : evening AS efen 

evel ad. ill AS yfel 

even, evene ad. exactly, cau 
tiously; bere even] act with 
moderation ; ful even] actually 
AS efen 

evene a. equal, well-matched, ordi 
nary, full 

even-song: evening prayer; if 
even-song and morwe-song ac- 
corde] if in the morning you 
agree to the evening's plan 

eventyde : evening 

ever: ever; evere in oon] al 
together; ever leng the worse] 
the worse the longer it hangs; 
evere lenger the more] the 
longer, the more AS aefre 

everech : each one ; cf. everich 

everemoore : evermore 

everich, everiche: every one, each 
AS sefre + selc 




evermo: evermore, constantly 
ever + mo 

everychon : every one 

everydel, everydelle: entirely, com 

everylyche : constantly ME ever 
+ ylike, AS gellce 

ew: yew-tree AS iw 

ewysse : I wis 

exaltacioun : sign in which a star 
has greatest power for good or 
ill OF exaltation 

exaltat pp. raised in zodiacal 
sign Lat. 

exametron: hexameter Lat. 

excuse inf. pardon OF. 

execucioun, execussyoun : execu 
tion OF execution 

exemple sb. example OF ex 

exercise inf. exercise OF excer- 

txpans yeeris: anni expansi, a 
term for separate numbers of 
years below twenty, in tables 

experience: proof, example OF. 

expowne inf. explain 

expres: expressly OF. 

xpresse inf. 3 pr. pi. express 
< expres 

expulsif: expellent ; cf. vertu OF. 

extenden 3 pr. pi. are extended 
Lat extendere 

extorcioun: extortion OF extor- 

ey: egg AS seg n. pi. segru 

eye: eye; eyen pi.; at eye] at a 
glance AS cage n. 

eyleth 3 pr. s. ails AS eglan 

eyr: air OF air 

eyre: heir, son OF heir 

eyther, eythir: either AS seg>er 

fables: stories OF. 

face: a division of the signs of 

the zodiac in mediaeval astrology 
facoun : falcon OF faucon 
facound, facounde sb. eloquence 

Lat facundus a. 
facound a. ready, fluent Lat 


facultee sb. ability F faculte 
ffder, fadre: father, ancestor, 

patriarch ; father's poss. ; fader 
kyn] father's family AS fseder 

fadme pi. fathoms AS fsetSm 

faile sb. failure, fail F faillir 

faillen inf. fail ; failled 3 pt. s. 

fair, faire a. fair ; as sb. a fair 
part ; a fair] an excellent speci 
men AS fasger 

faire ad. fairly, well 

fairer: more fair 

fairnesse, fairenesse sb. square 
living, uprightness ; swiche a 
fairenesse of a nekke] a neck of 
such fairness 

Fairye : Faerie, Fairyland 

fal sb. fall 

fal inf fall; cf. falle 

faldyng sb. coarse cloth, frieze 

falle inf. fall, happen, prosper, 
belong to ; falleth, fallys 3 pr. s. ; 
falleth in my thoght] comes to 
my mind ; fel 3 pt. s. ; fil, fille 
pt. ; falle 3 pr. s. subj. ; falle pp. ; 
AS feallan Icel falla 

falow: yellow, pallid AS fealu 

fals a. false OF fals 

falsen inf. be false to, betray, lie 

falsly: falsely 

faltren : falter ; orig. uncert. 

falwes: soft, fallow fields AS 
fealgas "harrows" 

famulier: familiar OF familier 

fan : the quintain was pivoted ; its 
two parts were the "fan" or 
"board" (shield), and the 
"club" or "bag." The tilter, on 
striking the board, had to 
dodge the swing of the bag 
which followed AS fann 

fantasye, fantesye sb. desire, fan 
tasy OF fantasie 

fantome: fantastic vision OF fan- 

fare sb. conduct, proceeding, 
business ; evil fare] ill hap, mis 
fortune AS faru "journey" f. 

fare inf. fare, prosper, behave, 
proceed ; faren 1 pr. pi. ; ferde, 
ferden pt. s., pi. ; fare pp. AS 
fa ran 

farewel, farwel : farewell 

farsed pp. stuffed F farce 

faste ad. rapidly, fast; faste by] 
near by AS fseste 




faste 1 pr. s. fast AS fsestan 

fastynge s. fasting 

fattyssh: fat, plump 

faucon: falcon; faucon peregryn] 
peregrine falcon OF faucon 

fauconers : falconers 

faught 3 pt. s. fought; cf. fighte 

fauned 3 pt. s. fawned on AS 

fawe: fain, glad AS fsegen 

fawnes: fauns Lat faunus 

fayerye: fairies, Fairyland OF 
faerie "enchantment" 

fayle inf. fail; cf. faillen 

fayn a. glad AS fsegen 

fayne ad. gladly ; han fayn] fain 

fayner a. gladder; ad. more gladly 

fayneste : gladdest 

faynte inf. faint ; feyntest 2 pr. s. ; 
OF feint pp. of feindre 

fayr ad. well 

fayre sb. fair AS faeger 

fayrest: fairest, most beautiful 

feble: feeble AF feble 

fecchen inf. take, bring ; fette 3 
pt. s. ; fet pp. AS fecc(e)an 

fedde 3 pt. s. fed AS fedan 

feder: feather; federys pi. AS 

fedme pi. fathoms AS fastSm 

fee: pay; fee symple] estate free 
from any limitation or entail 
AF fee 

feeld: field; feeldes pi. the field 
or background of banner or 
arms; feeld of snow, etc.] Bert- 
rand du Guesclin, constable of 
France, bore in his coat-of- 
arms a black eagle, upon a silver 
field ("feeld of snow") with a 
red band ("lymerod") across the 
whole, from left to right AS 
feld m. 

feelyngly : sympathetically 

feend: fiend AS feond m. 

feendly : fiendish 

feendlych: fiendish 

feere sb. fear AS faer 

feere sb. mate ; in feere] with each 
other AS gefera m. 

feeste: merriment; cf. feste OF 

feestlych: fond of feasts 

feet: feats, acts AF fet 

feith: faith OF fei + -th (cf. 


feithful: faithful 
fel, felle a. evil, cruel OF fel 
fel 3 pt. s. fell; cf. falle 
felawe sb. fellow, chum Icel 

felagi m. 

felaweshipe : fellowship, company 
felde: field; feldys pi.; cf. feeld 
feldefare: fieldfare, a kind of 

thrush ME felde + fare 
feldyn: 2 pt. pi. felt; cf. felen 
fele a. many AS fela 
fele inf. feel ; feled 3 pt. s. ; 

feldyn 2 pt. pi. AS felan 
felicitee : happiness OF. 
felle inf. fell, cut down; fild pp. 

AS fellan 

felonye : felony, crime OF felonie 
felowe : fellow ; cf. felawe 
felynge: feeling, fancy, sensitive 
ness, passion, artistic skill 
felyngly: feelingly 
felysshyppe : company, gathering 
Femenye : the country of the 

femynynytee : feminine form F 

fen: fann (Arab.) a branch of 

science; part of Avicenna's 


fendely: fiendlike, devilish 
Fenix: phoenix, a fabulous bird 

which every 500 years burned 

itself on the altar and rose again 

from the ashes young and beau 
fer a., ad. far; fer ne ner] neither 

more nor less AS feor 
ferbrond: firebrand AS fyr n. + 

AS brand 
ferde pt. s. prospered, went ; cf. 


fere, feere sb. fear AS faer 
fere, feere sb. mate in fere 


fered pp. frightened 
ferforth: far, forward 
ferforthly: thoroughly 
fermacies: pharmacies, remedies 

OF farmacie 
ferine sb. rent, payment; he 

"farmed" the revenues of his dis- 




trict, so that no one else begged 
in his district F ferme 
ferme a. firm OF ferme 
fermour: farmer, collector of taxes 
fern: long time AS feorran 
fern asshen: fern ashes, used as 
alkali in mediaeval glass AS 
feme: distant (pi. of ferren) AS 


Ferrare: Ferrara 
ferre, ferret ad. further AS 


ferreste a. most remote 
fers: the piece at chess next to 
the king, which we call the 
queen, but which was originally 
the Pherz, which in Persian 
signifies the chief counsellor. 
The loss of the queen for noth 
ing generally means the loss of 
the game ; ferses twelve] not 
twelve queens; here fers is used 
to mean all the pieces save the 
king; the bishop, knight and 
rook counting but one apiece 
OF fierce 

ferst: first AS fyrst 
f erthe : fourth AS feortSa 
ferther, ferthere : farther ; cf. 

AS furtSor 

ferthyng: farthing AS feortSung 
fesaunt: pheasant AF fesaunt 
fest: fist AS fyst f. 
feste sb. feast; festys pi. OF 

festeiyng: feasting, entertaining 

OF festeier 

festeth 3 pr. s. feasts 
festne inf. fasten AS fsestan 
fet, fete sb. pi. feet AS fet 
fet pp. fetched; cf. fecchen 
fethere: feather AS fetSr 
fethered 3 pt. s. feathered 
fetisly: neatly, correctly OF fetis, 

fette 3 pt. s. fetched, brought; cf. 

fettred 3 pt. s. fettered, put in 

chains AS fetor 
fettres pi. fetters 
fetys: neat, well-shaped OF fetis 
fevere terciane : tertian fever, with 

rise of temperature every other 
day AS fefor 

fewe pi. few AS feawe 

fey : faith ; in good fey] i' faith 
OF fey 

feyne ad. gladly AS faegen 

feyne: feign, pretend, speak false 
ly; feyned pp. OF feindre, 

feyntest : makest faint ; cf. faynte 

feyntynge: fainting, failing 

feynynge s. pretence 

f eyrenesse : beauty 

fey the: faith OF fei + th ; cf. 

fieble: feeble AF feble 

fiers, fierse: fierce OF fiers 

fifte, fifthe: fifth AS fifta 

fighte inf. fight ; fyght 3 pr. s. ; 
faught 3 pt. s. ; foghten 3 pt. pi., 
pp. AS feohtan 

figure: shape, figure; figuris pi. 
figures; figuris ten] the ten 
Arabic numerals F figure 

figurynge sb. form, figure 

fikulnesse : fickleness AS ficol 

fil, fille pt. fell, happened; cf. 

fild pp. felled; cf. felle 

fild pp. filled 

fille sb. fill AS fyllo, -u f. 

filthe: filth AS fylS f. 

finde: find, discover, invent, fur 
nish ; fynd, fynt pr. s. ; fond, 
foond, founde 1, 3 pt. s. ; founde 
pp. ; fynde 3 pr. s. subj. AS 

fir, fire : fire AS fyr n. 

firi a. fiery 

firmament: sky, heaven Lat 

firre : fir-tree ; cf. Icel fura 

firste table: the first of the ten 
commandments refers to God 

firy: fiery 

fissh: fish AS fisc 

fissher : fisherman 

fit: a portion of a song AS fit 

fithele: fiddle AS fitJele 

fixe pp. fixed OF fixe 

flambes: flames OF flambe, flame 

flater 1 pr. s. flatter; cf. Ger. 
flattern, F flatter 

flaterye: flattery OF flaterie 




flatery, flateyrynge sb. flatter 

flatour: flatterer OF. 
flatte: flat Icel flatr 
flaugh 2 pt. s. flewest; cf. flee 
flaume : flame OF flame 
Flaundres: Flanders, a district 

now forming parts of France, 

Holland and Belgium 
Flaundryssh a. Flemish 
fle,fleen inf. flee, escape ; fledde 

3 pt. s. ; fleeth imp. pi. ; fled pp. ; 

AS fleon 

fledde 3 pt. s. ; cf. flee 
flee inf. fly ; flaugh 2 pt. s. ; fleigh, 

fly 3 pt. s. ; flowen 3 pt. pi. AS 

fleemeth 3 pr. s. banisheth ; 

flemed pp. AS fleman 
fleen sb. pi. fleas AS flea m. (-n) 
fleete, flete inf. float, swim ; flete 

1 pr. s. ; fleteth pr. s. ; fleete 

3 pr. s. subj. AS fleotan 
fleeth imp. pi. flee; cf. fle 
fleight 3 pt. s. flew; cf. flee 
flekked pp. spotted ; cf. Icel 


flemed pp. banished AS fleman 
flemere : banisher 
Flemyng: Fleming, native of 


flen inf. flee ; cf. fle 
fles sb. fleece AS fleos 
flessh sb. flesh, meat AS flaesc n. 
fleshly ad. in the flesh, carnal 
flesshy : fleshy 
flek inf., 1 pr. s. float, swim ; cf. 


fletynge p. floating 
flex sb. flax AS fleax n. 
fleynge p. flying; cf. flee 
flikerynge p. flickering AS flice- 


flo: arrow AS fla f(-n) 
flok sb. flock AS flocc m. 
flokmeele : in a flock, in troops 
Flora: Goddess of flowers 
floryn: florin, a coin OF florin < 

flotery: fluttering, unkempt < AS 

flour : flower ; flourys pi. ; flour 

delys] fleur de lis, lily OF flour 
flourethe 3 pr. s. blooms, flour 

ishes ; floure 3 pr. s. subj. ; 
floured 3 pt. s. 

flourouns: little flowers, florets 

floury: flowery 

flowen 3 pt. pi. flew; cf. flee 

floytynge p. playing the flute OF 

fly 3 pt. s. flew; cf. flee 

flye sb. fly AS fleoge f. 

flynt: flint AS flint 

flyttynge p. fleeting, transitory, 
of little value 

fneseth 3 pr. s. puffs AS gefne- 

fnorteth 3 pt. s. snoreth < AS 
fneosan (wk. grade) 

fodder is now forage : my prov 
ender is provided for me, as 
hay for a horse in winter AS 

foghten 3 pt. pi. fought ; cf. fighte 

fol, fole sb. fool OF fol 

fol a. foul AS ful 

folde sb. fold ; metaphor for par 
ish AS fald 

folely, folily : foolishly 

folie: folly OF. 

folk, folke : folk, people, company 
AS folc n. 

folwen inf. follow ; folwe pr. s. ; 
folwen pr. pi. ; folwed, folowed 
3 pt. s. ; folowed wel] was a 
natural consequence ; folwynge 
p. AS folgian 

foly, folye sb. folly, foolishness 

foly ad. foolishly 

fomy a. foaming < AS fam 

fon pi. foes AS fa m. 

fond, fonde 1 pt. s. found ; cf. 

fonde inf. attempt, sound, try out 
AS fandian 

fonge inf. receive, take AS fon 

fontstoon : font 

foo: foe AS fa m. 

foole: fool; foolys pi. OF fol 

foolhardynesse : foolhardiness ; pers. 
Pf 227 

foom, fome: foam AS fam n. 

foomen: foes 

foond 1 pt. s. found ; cf. finde 

foore: track, way, steps < AS 
for f. journey 

foot-hoot: foot-hot, speedily 




foot-mantel: an outer skirt to pro 
tect the gown when riding horse 

for conj. for, because, in order 
that AS. 

for prep, for, for the sake of, for 
fear of, in spite of, as far as 

for al : notwithstanding 

for river: to the river 

forage : winter food, hay ; cf. fod 
der OF fourage 

forbede, forbedeth 3 pr. s. for- 
biddeth ; forbede imp. ; forbode 
pp. AS forbeodan 

forbere inf. refrain from, forbear; 
forbereth imp. pi. AS forberan 

for blak: very black 

forbode sb. Goddis forbode] [it 
is] God's forbidding, God for 
bid! AS forbod 

forbode pp. forbidden ; cf. forbede 

forbrused : badly bruised 

forby ad. past 

fordoon inf. render vain, destroy ; 
fordo pp. AS fordon 

for-dronken pp. very drunk 

fordryed : dried up 

foresterys pi. foresters F fores- 

foreward sb. agreement AS fore- 

forfered: greatly frightened 

forgate, forgete pt. s. forgot; cf. 

forgeten pp. forgotten ; cf. foryete 

forgoon inf. forego, give up ; 
forgo pp. lost AS foregan 

forheed: forehead AS forheafod 

forkerveth 3 pr. s. hews in pieces 

forkutteth 3 pr. s. cuts to pieces 

forlete inf. lose, give up AS 

forleygne : the recall note, sounded 
when the hounds are off the 
trail OF for(s)loignier "leave 
far behind" 

forlorn pp. lost AS forloren 

forme sb. form ; in form] with 

forme inf. form ; formed to 3 pt. 
s. formed so as to be 

formel, formele: female bird 

former: early; former age: olden 

formere: creator 

formest a. foremost 

forncast: provided 

forneys sb. furnace 

fornicacioun : fornication 

for old : with age 

forpampred: over-pampered 

forpyned pp. tormented, wasted 

fors: force; no fors] no matter; 
no fors of] no matter about; I 
do no fors] I regard not 

forseyde pp. aforesaid 

forslewthen inf. waste idly 

forsok pp. forsook 

forsothe : verily 

forster : forester 

f orswerynges : forswearing 

forth, forthe : forth, onward 

forther: further AS forSor 

forthermoor: further on 

fortherover: moreover 

fortheryng : furthering 

forthren inf. further, assist 

forthright: straightforward 

f orthward : forward 

forthy : therefore 

Fortune : the goddess of fortune 

fortunen inf. give fortune; fortu- 
nen the ascendent] choose a 
fortunate ascendent ; fortunest 2 
pr. s. ; fortuned 3 pt. pi. hap 
pened ; fortuned pp. ; gifted by 
Fortune CM 180 

for-waked pp. wearied out by 

forward : agreement 

forweped pp. worn out with weep- 

f orwery : very weary 

forwes : furrows 

for-why conj. ad. wherefor, why, 

forwityng: prescience, foreknowl 

forwoot 3 pt. s. foreknew 

forwrapped pp. wrapped up 

foryelde inf. requite, repay 

foryete inf. forget ; forgate, for 
gete pt. s. ; forgeten, foryeten 

f oryetful : forgetful 




foryeve inf. forgive ; foryeve 3 
imp. s., imp. pi. ; foryevith imp. 
pi. ; foryevyn, foryive pp. 

fostred 3 pt. s., pp. fostered, 
brought up 

fote: foot; fote hote] foot hot, 
right away 

fother: cart-load AS fotSor 

foughte 3 pt. pi. fought; foughten 
3 pt. pi., pp. 

foul sb. bird; smale foules] song 
birds AS fugl 

foul a. evil, dangerous AS ful 

foule ad. foully 

foulere : fowler 

founde pt. s., pp.; found; cf. finde 

foundred 3 pt. s. stumbled 

founes pi. fawns, bucks in the 
first year 

foure : four 

foure and twenty : John of Gaunt 
was really 29. It is suggested 
that some scribe read xxviiij as 
though it were xxiiij 

fourneys: furnace 

fourtenyght: fortnight, two weeks 

fourty : forty 

fowel: bird; smale foweles] song 

fownde pp. found; cf. finde 

foyne imp. let him thrust ; 
foyneth 3 pr. s. ; foynen 3 pr. pi. 

foyson: abundance 

frakenes : freckles ; cf. Icel frelknur 

fram : from AS. 

franchise: liberality, nobleness OF. 

frankeleyn : the franklins were well- 
to-do farmers, householders; in 
social rank inferior to the 
knights, yet having certain dig 
nities AF fraunkelayn 

fraternitee sb. guild OF. 

fraught pp. lade 

Fraunceys Petrark: Francesco Pe 
trarch [1304-1374] one of the 
greatest of Italian poets, best 
known for his sonnets to Laura. 
He lived at Arqua, two miles 
from Padua 

frayneth 3 pr. s. prays AS 

fre, free a. free, gracious, liberal 
AS freo 

fredam, fredome: generosity AS 

freend, frend: friend AS freond 


freendlich a. friendly 
freeten 3 pr. pi devour; cf. freten 

AS fretan 

freletee: frailty OF frailete 
frely: freely 

fremde: strange AS fremde 
frend sb. friend ; cf. freend 
frendely a. friendly 
frendly ad. friendly 
frendshipe: friendship AS freond- 


Frenssh : French 
frere : friar OF. 
fresche, freshe, fressh : fresh, 

bright, lively, frank OF fres, 

f. fresche 

fressher a. fresher, brighter 
fresshly newe : unwearyingly 
fret: gold band, ornament OF 

freten inf. devour; freeten 3 pr. 

pi. ; frete pp. AS fretan 
freut: fruit OF fruit 
freyned pp. asked AS fregnan 
Friday: Venus' day (vendredi) 
Frise: Holland, Friesland, country 

of the Frisians 
fro ad. fro Icel fra 
fro prep, from 
frosche: fresh OF fresche f. 
frothen 3 pr. pi. froth, foam Icel 


fructes: fruits Lat fructum 
fructifie : come to fruition, bear 

fruit Lat. 
fructuous: fruitful, full of meat 


frutesteres: fruit-girls 
fruyt: fruit, prize 
frye inf. fry, burn OF frire 
ful a. full; atte fulle] completely 


ful ad. fully, completely 
ful dryve: settled 
fulfild pp. filled full AS fulfyllan 
fulle a. full; cf. ful 
fulliche: fully 
fullonge: long 
fulsomnesse : over-abundance 




fume: the distillation of substance 
in the body OF lum 

fumetere : fumitory, earth-smoke, 
an herb OF fume-terre 

fumositee: fumes (of wine) 

furial: dreadful, as by furies op 
pressed Lat furialis 

furie: monster, Fury OF. 

furlong wey : a short distance, or 
time, a while AS furlang 

furste: first; cf. firste 

further over: moreover 

fustian: strong cloth OF fustaine 

fuyr: fire AS fyr n. 

fy inter j. fie ! (with stronger sense 
than now) F fi ! 

fyght 3 pr. s. fighteth ; cf. fighte 

fyle sb. file AS feol, Merc, fil f. 

fyled pp. filed 

fylthe: filth AS fyl f. 

fyn, fyne sb. end, purpose OF fin 

fynaly: once for all 

fynch sb. finch, a small bird, a 
mistress AS fine 

fynde a tale : think up something 
to say ; cf. finde 

fynder: discoverer 

fyne inf. finish (followed by in 

fyne a. fine; fyne of ground] of 
fine texture OF fin 

fyneste a. finest 

fyngerynge : fingering (of strings) 

fyngres: fingers AS finger 

fynnys : fins AS finn 

fynt 3 pr. s. finds; cf. finde 

Fynystere: the Cape of Finistere, 
western France 

fyr: fire; pyre A 2914 AS fyr 

fyr: fir; cf. fir 

fyr-reed a. fiery-red 

fyrst: first 

Fyssh: Pisces, a zodiacal sign, the 
"exaltation" of Venus 

gabbe: talk idly OF gaber 
gadereth 3 pr. s. gathers; gadered, 

gadrede pt. ; cf. Du gaderen 
gaf 3 pt. s. gave; cf. yeven 
gaitrys berys : "goat-berries," of 

the buckthorn (Sk.) AS < gate- 

treow, goat-tree 

galauntyne : a sauce F galantine 

galaxye: the Milky Way F gal- 

gale inf. sing out AS galan 

galentyne : a sauce for fowl F 

Galgopheye : perhaps Gargaphie, 
where Actseon was turned into 
a stag 

Galianes: "Galens," probably an 
(intentional?) error of the Host, 
who thought Galen, like Hippoc 
rates, must have some medicine 
named for him 

Galice : Galicia, a province in 
Spain, the seat of the shrine of 
St. James (Santiago) of Compo- 

Galien: Gallienus, emperor of Rome 
before Claudius II 

galle sb. gall; pi. feelings of 
spleen, discord AS gealla m. 

galle sb. sore spot OF galle 

galoche: shoe OF. 

galon wyn: gallon of wine OF 
gal on 

galpyng : gaping, yawning ; cf. Du 
galpen "cry" 

galwes: gallows AS galga 

Galyen: Galen, a celebrated physi 
cian of the second century, whose 
books were considered for four 
teen centuries the highest author 
ity on medicine 

galyngale sb. a spice of the cy- 
perus root F galingal 

game sb. game, sport, pleasure, 
jest AS gamen 

gamed pt. s. impers. it pleased 

gan pt. s. began; cf. ginne 

Ganelon: one of the knights of 
Charlemagne, whose treachery 
caused the destruction of Roland, 
Oliver and the rear guard under 

ganeth 3 pt. s. yawns AS ganian 

gape inf. gape, yawn; cf. Icel 

gappe sb. gap ; cf. Icel gap 
gapyng p. gaping 
gardyn: garden OF gardin 
gardynward: direction of the gar 
gar gat: throat < OF gargate 




garleek sb. garlic AS garleac 
garlondes: garlands OF garlande 
gastly: ghastly < AS gsestan 
gat: 3 pt. s. begot; cf. gete 
gate sb. gate ; gatis pi. ; cf. Icel 


gate: 3 pt. s. refl. got; cf. gete - 
Gatesden: John Gatisden, physician 
at Oxford in fourteenth century, 
court-doctor of Edward II 
gat-tothed a. gap-toothed, with 
teeth set wide apart < Icel gat 
gaude sb. deceit, graft; cf. OF 

gaudir "rejoice" 

gaude grene: light or yellowish 
green F gaude "weld" a plant 
for dyeing 

gauded pp. ornamented with 
gawdies, which were the larger 
beads in the set, marking the 

Gaufred : Geoffrey de Vinsauf , 
mediaeval scholar, wrote "Nova 
Poetria" shortly after the death 
of Richard I, with original mod 
els, in bombastic and turgid 
style. One poem bewailed Rich 
ard's death: "O Veneris lacri- 
mosa dies," etc. 
Gaunt: Ghent, city in Flanders, 

a center of cloth-making 
gauren inf. stare 
Gawayn : Sir Gawain, nephew and 
bravest knight of King Arthur 
in older tales 
Gawle: Chaucer translates "Galli" 

as folk of Gawle, The Gauls 
gay : gay, gaudy in dress F gai 
gayler: jailer OF geolier 
gayne : benefit Icel gagn 
gayneth pr. s. impers. gains 
Gazan: ace. of Gaza, a city on the 

plain of Philistia, south of Jaffa 
geaunt: giant OF geant 
geere : clothes, garb, equipment ; 

cf. AS gearwe, Icel gervi 
geere: inconstant behavior orig. 


gees pi. geese AS gos, pi. ges 
geeste : geste, story of adventure ; 
the (alliterative) meter of gestes; 
pi. Gesta Romanorum, a mediae 
val book of anecdotes OF geste 

geeste inf. to recite gestes 

geestours: gestours, tellers of tales 

gelde inf. castrate 

gelous: jealous OF gelos 

gemmes, gemmys: gems, jewels F 

Genelloun : Ganelon, one of Char 
lemagne's officers, who betrayed 
the rear-guard of Charlemagne's 
army as it passed over the 
Pyrenees. The entire rear guard, 
including Roland and Oliver, was 
destroyed at Roncesvalles. Gane 
lon was punished by being torn 
to pieces by horses 

generalle: liberal, broadly sympa 
thetic OF general 

gent a. elegant OF. 

genterye: gentleness, noble birth, 
"gentilesse" OF genterise 

gentil : gentle, noble, well-bred 

gentilesse: gentleness, nobility OF. 

gentilleste: noblest, most delicate 

gentilly : gently, honourably 

gentilman : gentleman 

gentils sb. pi. nobility OF. 

gentrye: nobility; cf. genterye 

Genyloun : Ganelon, of Brittany; 
cf. Genelloun 

geometric : geometry OF. 

gerdonyng: guerdoning, reward 
OF guerdoner 

gerdoun: guerdon, recompence OF 

gere sb. equipment; cf. geere 

gereful: changeable 

geres pi. behaviors ; cf. geere 

gerland : cf. garland 

Gernade: Granada, in Spain 

gerner sb. garner OF gernier 

Gerounde: Gironde, a river on west 
coast of France 

gery : changeable ; cf. geere 

gesse 1 pr. s. guess, think ; cf. 
Dan gissa 

gest : guest AS. 

gete inf. get, gain, regain, beget; 
gate 3 pt. s. refl. ; gat 3 pt. s. ; 
cf. Icel geta, AS gitan 

gethe 3 pr. s. goes; cf. gon 

geven pp. given ; cf. yive 

gide sb. guide F guide 

giggynge p. fitting; the "guige," 




or leather strap by which a 

knight's shield was slung OF 

Gilbertyn: perhaps Gilbertus An- 


gilde: golden AS gyldan 
gile: guile OF. 
gilt: guilt AS gylt "crime" 
gilte : golden 
giltelees : guiltless 
gilty a. guilty 
ginne inf. begin, attempt ; gan 

pt. s. ; gonne, gunne 3 pt. pi. 

< AS beginnan 
gipser sb. pouch, wallet F 


girdel sb. girdle AS gyrdel 
girden : strike orig. uncert. 
girles pi. youth of either sex AS 

girt 3 pt. s., pp. girdled AS 

gise: guise, fashion, dress OF 

glad, glade : glad, merry ; pi. bright, 

sparkling AS gljed 
gladde, glade inf. make glad, com 
fort; gladeth imp. pi. AS 


glader: one who makes glad 
gladly: usually; willingly 
gladnesse: gladness, joy; wel sette 

gladnesse] seemly or becoming 


gladsom: pleasant 
glarynge : glaring, staring 
glas: glass AS glaes n. 
glasynge: glasswork 
gledy: burning AS gled, "a coal" 
glee: entertainment AS gleo 
gleede: glowing coal, fire AS 

gled f. 

glem sb. gleam AS glsem m. 
gliterynge : glittering 
glood 3 pt. s. glided; cf. glyde 
glorie: glory OF glorie 
glose sb. interpretation, commen 
tary, hence margin of book ; cf. 

text F glose 
glosen inf. gloze, interpret texts, 

flatter, cajole F gloser 
glotenye : gluttony OF glotenie 
glotoun: glutton F glouton 

gloweden 3 pt. pi. glowed AS 


glowynge p. glowing, shining 
glyde inf. glide, ascend; glood 3 

pt. s. AS glidan 
glyteren 3 pr. pi. glitter ; glytered 

3 pt. s. 
gnawynge p. gnawing, champing 

AS gnagan 
gnodded 3 pi. pt. rubbed; cf. 

AS gnidan 

gnow 3 pt. s. gnawed 
gobet sb. section, fragment F 


Goddesse : goddess AS god 
Goddis poss. s. God's; pi. Gods 
godelyhede s. goodliness 
godenesse, godnesse: goodness 
godhede: divinity 
gold, golde s. gold AS gold n. 
gold-bete pp. covered with beaten 


goldene: golden 
gold-hewen : hewn of gold 
goldryng : gold ring 
goldsmythrye : goldsmith's work 
gold-threed: gold thread 
gole: mouthful of words, cackle F 


golet: throat, gullet OF goulet 
goliardeys sb. buffoon, teller cf 

coarse jests 
Golias: Goliath, giant slain by 


gomme : gum OF. 
gon inf. go ; goo 1 pr. s. ; goost 

2 pr. s. ; gethe, goth 3 pr. s. ; 

goon 2 pr. pi. ; go imp ; goynge 

p. ; go, goon pp. ; go betj go as 

quickly as possible AS gan 
gonne sb. gun orig. uncert. 
gonne 3 pt. pi. began ; cf. ginne 
good sb. goods, property ; by his 

propre good] within his own 

income AS god 
goode sb. good 
goode a. good 
goodely: goodly, kindly 
goodenesse: goodness 
goodlich : goodly 
goodlieste : goodliest 
gooldes: marigolds 
goon inf. go ; cf. gon ; goon with 

childe] pregnant; goon a blake- 




beryed] go a blackberrying, 

wandering; up goon the trom- 

pes] the trumpets sound 
goon is: ago 
goore : a gore, part of a garment, 

met. for the garment ; under my 

goore] within my garment AS 

gara m. 

goos: goose AS gos 
goost sb. ghost, spirit; Holy 

Ghost AS gast m. 
goost biforn : anticipatest ; cf. 


goot: goat AS gat m. 
Gootland: Gotland, an island in 

the Baltic Sea 

goshauk : goshawk AS goshafuc 
gosis: poss. goose's 
gossib: friend, gossip AS godsibb 

"God-relative." i.e. by baptismal 


gossomer : gossamer, thin fabric 
gost: spirit; cf. goost 
goth 3 pr. s. ; goes ; cf . gon 
gourde: gourd, drinking vessel 

OF gourde 

goute: gout OF goutte 
governaille: control, rule OF 

gouvernail "rudder" 
governaunce : method of manage 
ment, control, self-control OF. 
governed 3 pt. s. governed ; 

governeth 2 imp. pi. OF gov- 

governeresse : governess, mistress, 

ruler OF. 

governour: ruler, umpire OF. 
governyng sb. control, guardian 

gowne: gown OF gone 
goynge p. going; cf. gon 
grace: grace, favor, help, mercy, 

lot; his lady grace] his lady's 

favor OF. 

grame : harm, misery AS grama 
grammeere: grammar OF gram- 

grapenel: grapnel, grappling iron 

diminutive of OF grapin "hook" 
gras : grace 
gras: grass AS grzes 
gras-tyme : the summer, when a 

horse can get grass in the fields 
Graunsome: Sir Oto de Graunson, 

knight of Savoy, in the pay of 
Richard II 

graunt sb. grant, privilege OF 

graunt mercy of: great thanks for 

graunten inf. grant; grauntith 
imp. s. 

grauntyng sb. granting, grant 

graven inf. carve, dig, bury AS 

grayn: dye term; in grayn] a fast 
color, made from the grain, or 
kermes F grain 

Grece : Greece 

grece sb. grease F graisse 

gree: good part; in gree] in good 
will F gre 

gree: rank, superiority OF gre 

greet, greete a. great, splendid; 
the greete] the important part 
AS great 

Greke: Greek; Grekes poss. 

grene: green, usual color for arch 
ers AS grene 

grenehede: youthful folly 

Grenewych: Greenwich, Chaucer's 
home, below Deptford 

gres: grass AS graes 

gresly: grisly, fearsome AS grislic 

gret, grete : great ; cf. greete 

Crete See : the Mediterranean 

gretenesse : greatness, size 

grette pt. s. greeted AS gretan 

gretter: greater 

gretteste : greatest 

grevaunce : grievance, trouble F 

greve inf. grieve, trouble OF 

greve sb. grove AS graf f. 

grevosly : grievously 

grevous : grievous 

grew pt. pi. grew ; cf. growe 

greye: grey AS grseg 

greyn : grain OF grain 

griffon: griffin, fabulous beast, half 
lion, half eagle OF. 

Grisil: Grisel, name for a gray 

Grisildis : Griselda 

grisly : horrible, awful AS grislic 

grobbe inf. grub orig. uncert. 

grond: 3 pt. s. ground AS grin- 




gronte 3 pt. s. groaned AS 


grope inf. test, feel AS gropian 
grot: atom, particle AS grot 
grot: groat, small coin ODu 


grounded pp. well versed in 
growe inf. grow; grew pt. pi. 

AS growan 

groynynge : murmuring of discon 
grucche inf. grumble ; grucchen 

pr. pi. OF grouchier 
gruf ad. groveling, on his face; cf. 

grym, grymme : grim, fierce AS 


grynt 3 pr. s. grindeth 
grys sb. an expensive grey fur, 

very stylish at this time OF gris 
grysely : horrible 
gunne 3 pi. pt. began ; cf. ginne 
guy imp. pi. guide ; cf. gye OF 


gyde sb. guide 
gyden inf. guide, conduct 
gye inf. guide, lead ; guy imp. pi. 
gyle: guile, deceit OF. 
gyn: machine, device OF engin 
gyngebreed: ginger bread OF 

gynglen inf. jingle. Bridles were 

often decorated with small bells 
gypoun: a doublet, tunic OF 


gyse: manner, custom OF guise 
gyterne: kind of guitar OF gui- 

gytes pi. mantel; cf. OF guite 



haberdasshere sb. haberdasher, 
merchant of hats, or of pins, 
buttons, etc. ; cf. AF hapertas 

habergeoun: a short hauberk, or 
coat-of-mail OF haubergeon 

habitacioun: habitation OF habi 

habounde inf. abound F abonder 

Habradate: Abradates, king of 

habundance : abundance 

habundant: abundant 
habundantly : abundantly 
hachis: hatches AS haecc f. 
haddist 3 pt. s. hadst; haddyn 

3 pt. pi. ; cf. have 
haire: hair-shirt AS haer f. 
hakeney: hackney; cf. OF haque- 

nee, and Hackney 
hakke inf. hack AS haccian 
haldist 2 pr. s. boldest; cf. holde 
hale inf. draw ; cf. AS geholian 
half wey pryme: 7.30, half way 

from 6 to 9 
halfe sb. side, behalf; a goddes 

halfe] in God's name AS healf 
halfe a. half 
halfe word: equivocation 
halke : hiding-place 
hallis: halls AS heal 
hals: neck; (ace. of reference) 

AS heals 
halse 1 pr. s. conjure AS heal- 


halt 3 pr. s. holds; cf. holde 
halte a. lame AS healt 
halwed pp. blessed AS halgian 
halwes pi. saints, used to denote 

saint's shrines; halwes twelve] 

the twelve disciples of Christ 

AS halig "holy" 

Haly: Arabian physician of elev 
enth century 
h_alyday : holyday 
hamer sb. hammer AS hamer 
han inf., 3 pr. pi. have; cf. have 

AS habban 

handes pi. hands AS hand m. 
hangyn inf. hang; hongeth 3 pr. 

s. ; heeng, heng, henge pt. s., pi. ; 

honge 3 pt. pi. ; hyng 3 pt. s. 

AS hangian 
Hanybal : Hannibal, Carthaginian 

general, defeated Rome at Pla- 

centia, Lake Trasimenus, and 

Cannae, B. C. 218-217 
happe sb. chance, luck, good for 
tune ; cf. Icel happ 
happe, happyn inf. happen, occur; 

happith 3 pr. s. ; happed, happede 

3 pt. s. 
harde: hard; harde grace] misery 

AS heard 

harde pp. heard ; cf. here 
hardely, hardily: certainly, surely 


hardinesse: boldness 

hardnesse : cruelty 

hardy: strong, brave F hardi 

hardyng: hardening 

harlotrye: ribaldry; pi. ribald jests 

harme s. harm, injury, evil AS 

hearm m. 

harmeful: harmful, evil 
harneised pp. equipped, decorated 

OF harneschier 
harneys: armor F harnais 
harome : harm ; cf. harme 
harpe sb. harp AS hearpe 
harpyng sb. playing upon the harp 
harre sb. hinge AS heorra 
harrow! interj. alas! 
hart: heart; cf. herte 
hartely : heartily, truly 
haryed pp. dragged along AS 

hergian "ravage" 
hasard: gambling OF. 
hasardour : gamester 
hasardrye : dicing, gaming 
Hasdrubales : Hasdrubal, a Car 
thaginian general 
hasel: hazel-tree AS haesel 
hastely : hastily 
hastif: hasty OF hasti 
hastifliche : hastily 
hastiliche : hastily 
hastou, hastow 2 pr. s. hast thou ; 

cf. have 

hate sb. hatred AS hete m. 
hate 1 pr. s. hate AS hatian 
hath 3 pr. s. has, there is; cf. 

haubergeoun : coat of mail ; cf. 

hauberke: coat of mail OF hau- 


hauk sb. hawk AS hafoc 
hauke inf. hawk, hunt with the 


haukyng : hawking 
haunt: abode, region; practice, 

skill ; dictrict covered by one 

man OF hanter 
haunteth 3 pr. s. makes a practice 


hautayn, hauteyn: proud, high- 
sounding F hautain 
have, han, havyn inf. have, keep ; 

hastow 2 pr. s. hast thou ; hath 


3 pr. s. ; han 3 pr. pi ; haddist 2 

pt. s. ; haddyn 3 pt. pi. ; have 

3 pr. s. subj. AS habban 
haven : port 

havyn inf. have ; cf. have 
hawberk: hauberk OF hauberc 
hawe: haw, fruit of dog-rose AS 

hawebake: a baked haw, husk for 

a famished man ; hence, plain 

hawethorn: hawthorn AS haga- 


hayl sb. hail AS haegel 
hayle inf. hail 
Hayles: Hailes, in Gloucester 
he ... he ... he used as dem. 

pron. this one, that one, an 
other, etc. 
healle inf. heal ; heeled pp. AS 


Hebrayk a. Hebraic, Hebrew 
hed, hede, heed: head AS heafod n. 
heede sb. heed AS hedan 
heeld 3 pt. s. held; cf. holde 
heele sb. health AS hselu f. 
heelp inf. help ; cf. helpe 
heeng 3 pt. s., pi. hanged; cf. 

heep sb. heap, crowd, lot AS 


heer sb. hair ; heeris pi. AS haer 
heer ad. here AS her 
heer-biforn : heretofore 
heere inf. hear ; cf. here 
heerforth: in this direction 
heerupon: hereupon 
heeste : command AS hses f. 
heete 3 pr. s. promise ; cf. hete 
heete sb. vow ; cf. AS gehat 
heeth sb. heath, field AS hseo 1 
hegges: hedges; cf. AS hege m. 
heigh, heih a. high; in heigh and 

lough] under all circumstances, 

completely AS heah 
heigh, heighe ad. high 
hel, helle: Hades, Hell, torment 

AS hell 
helde inf. hold; pt. s. held; cf. 

holde AS healdan 
hele sb. health, well-being AS 


hele inf. conceal AS helan 
hele inf. heal AS haelan 




helme: helmet AS. 

helmed pp. protected by a helmet 

OF < AS. 
Helowys: Heloise, wife of Abelard, 

great teacher of Xllth century, 

retired to a convent 
helpe s. help, aid; do helpe] aid, 

assist AS help 
helpe, heelp inf. help, assist ; heelp 

3 pt. s. ; helpe 3 pr. s. subj., 

imp. ; holpen pp. AS helpan 
helplees: helpless 
hem: them 
hende : courteous, gentle AS 

gehenda "near" 
heng, henge 3 pt. s., pi. hanged ; 

cf. hangyn 

henne: hence AS heona, hine 
hente inf. acquire, seize, grip ; 

hente pt. s. ; hent pp. AS hentan 
hepe: hip; fruit of the dog-rose 

AS heope 

hepe: heap, number; cf. heep 
her: hair AS riser 
heraud: herald OF. 
herbe yve : herb ivy, ground-pine 
herbergage: lodging, furnishing, 

lodgings OF. 

herbergeours: purveyors of lodging 
herberwe : harbor, inn, position in 

the ecliptic; cf. Icel herbergi 
herberwynge : harboring 
Hercules: son of Zeus and Alc- 


herd: hard 

herde sb. herdsman AS hierde 
herde 3 pt. s. heard; cf. here 
here sb. hair AS haer 
here : their 
here, heere inf. hear ; herde 3 pt. 

s. ; harde, herd, herde pp. ; 

heere 2 imp. s. AS heran 
herebefore, herebeforne : previous 
ly, a while ago 

Herenus: of the Erinyes, or Furies 
Hereos (med.) the malady of love 
herieth 3 pr. s. praises ; heryen 

3 pr. pi. ; heryed pp. AS herian 
heris pi. hair, hairs; cf. here 
herith 3 pr. s. hears; cf. here 
heriynge sb.' praise 
herkene, herkne inf. listen, hark- 

en ; herkenyth, herkneth imp. 

AS hercnian 

Hermanno : really Herennianus, 
son of Zenobia 

Hermengyld : Ermengild 

Hermyon : Hermione 

herne: corner, nook AS hyrne 

Herodes s., pi. Herod; Herod 
ordered the slaughter of the 
Innocents in Bethlehem ; cf. 
Matt. ii. 16 

heronsewes: heronsaw, hernsaw, 
heron OF heronceau 

heroun: heron OF heron 

Herro: Hero, beloved of Leander 
at Sestos 

Kerry: Harry 

herse: hearse, in the sense of bier, 
or of a body lying in state OF 

hert: hart, stag AS heort 

herte sb. heart AS heorte 

herte 3 pt. s. hurt OF heurter 

herte-blood: heart's blood 

hertely a. hearty 

hertely ad. sincerely, cordially 

herte-roote : "bottom of one's 

herte-spoon : breast-bone 

herye 3 pr. pi. praise; cf. herieth 
AS herian 

herytage: heritage OF heritage 

heste: behest, command AS haes 

Hester: Esther, queen of Ahasue- 
rus; cf. the Book of Esther 

hete sb. heat AS hsetu f. 

hete inf. promise, be named; het, 
heete, hete, highte pr. s. ; het, 
hete, hight pt. ; hyght pp. 

heterly : fiercely ; cf. Low Ger het- 
ter "irritating" 

hethen sb. heathen; another 
hethen] a different heathen from 
AS hsetSen 

Hethenesse: heathen lands 

hette 3 pt. s. heated AS hsetan 

heve inf. heave, lift AS hebban 

hevedes, hevedis: heads AS heafod 

heven, hevene: heaven; hevene and 
lia] heaven (coelum) and Leah 
(the busy wife) ; hevene of peo 
ple] < coelum + leos (gr. peo 
ple) ; hevenes lilie] < coeli lilia, 
fanciful etymologies for Cecilia 
AS heofon m. 

hevenelyche : heavenly 




hevenysh: heavenly, of the heav 
enly bodies 

hevyness : heaviness, despondency, 
sorrow AS hefigness 

hewe: hue, color, complexion AS 
heow n. 

hewed a. hued 

hewen inf. cut, hew AS heawan 

hey: hay AS heg 

heyest: highest 

heye-weye : highway 

heyre-clowt: hair-cloth AS clut 

heyres: heirs OF heir 

heysoge: hedge-sparrow, "hay- 

hider ad. hither AS. 

hidouse: hideous OF hidous 

hidously : hideously 

hie ad. high AS heah 

hierde : shepherd AS hierde m. 

high : in a high pitch 

highte 3 pr. s. was named; cf. 

hil: hill AS hyll m. 

hipes, hypes sb. pi. hips AS 
hype m. 

hir pers. pron., dat. and ace. to 
her, her 

hir, hire poss. her, their 

hires: her 

hise : his 

historial: historic 

hit pron. it 

hitte pt. s. hit; cf. Icel hitta 

ho: who AS hwa 

hod: hood AS hod 

Hogge: Hodge, nickname for 

hogges poss. hog's AS hogga 

hoke: hook AS hoc m. 

hold, holde inf., 1 pr. s. hold, 
\eep, possess, consider; haldist 
2 pr. s. ; halt, halte 3 pr. s. ; 
heeld, helde 3 pt. s. ; hoold imp. ; 
holde pp. AS healdan 

hole sb. hole, hollow AS hoi n. 

hole a. all AS hal 

holly: wholly, entirely 

holm: oak (evergreen) ASholen(?) 

holour: lecher OF holier 

holpen pp. helped; cf. helpe 

holsum : wholesome 

holt: grove AS holt n. 

holwe a. hollow AS holh 

holy: wholly, entirely 

holyday: holy day, holiday 

horn : whom 

homage: homage; did homage] 

acknowledged as lord OF. 
hom-comynge ; cf. hoom-comynge 
homward : homeward 
homycide: murderer OF homicide 
hond, honde s. hand, oath; of 

hir hond] of arms AS hand f. 
hondred: hundred AS hundred 
honeste, honestee, honestetee sb. 

honesty, decency OF honeste 
honeste a. honorable, decent OF. 
honge 3 pt. pi. hanged ; cf. 

hongeth 3 pr. s. hangs; cf. 

honneure inf. honor ; honoureth 

3 pr. s. ; honouren 3 pr. pi. subj. ; 

honured pp. OF honourer 
honouren pi. s. ; cf. honneure 
honurable: honorable 
hony : honey AS hunig 
hoode sb. hood AS hod 
hoodeles: hoodless, unprotected 

from weather 
hool a. whole, well, entire AS 


hoold sb. castle ; cf. AS heald 
hoold imp. hold ; cf. holde 
hoole sb. hole 
hoole ad. wholly 
hooly a. holy 
hooly ad. wholly, entirely 
hoolynesse : holiness 
hoom ad. home AS ham m. 
hoom-comynge: home-coming 
hoomely, hoomly : simply, unos 
hoor: hoary AS har 
hoord: hoard, treasure AS hord 
hoot, hoote a. hot; cf. humour 

AS hat 

hoote ad. hotly 
hoppen 1 pr. pi. dance AS hop- 


hoppesteres a. dancing 
horde sb. hoard, much money AS 

hord n. m. 

hore : grayhaired AS har 
Hornchild: King Horn, or Horn 




Childe, a Middle English metri 
cal romance 

home : horn, bugle ; drinking horn 
AS horn m. 

horowe: foul AS horig 

hors: horse AS. 

horse a. hoarse AS has 

horsly : horselike, thoroughbred 

hosen pi. hose AS hose 

hostelrye: inn OF hostelerie 

hostileer: inn-keeper OF hostelier 

hote: hot; fote hote] foot hot, 
right away, hastily AS hat 

hou : how 

houndes, houndys pi. hounds AS 

houres: hours; kepte in houres] 
treated him according to the as 
trological hours ; watched for 
times when the planets were in 
the proper position for favorable 
treatment OF hore 

hous sb. house; one of the 12 
parts of the zodiacal circle ; 
derkeste hous] Scorpio (Sk.) ; 
Hous of Fame] The House of 
Fame, poem by Chaucer AS 

housbond: husband Icel husbondi 

housbondrie: economy 

houses of office: servants' quarters 

housholdere : householder 

how! interj. ho! 

how, howe ad. how, in what man 

how: however 

howped pt. pi. whooped OF 

howve: hood; sette his howve] 
make him look foolish AS hufe 

huge: great; cf. OF ahuge 

Hugelyn of Pyze : Ugolino of Pisa, 
slain July, 1288 

Hugh of Lyncoln: Hugh of Lin 
coln, a boy of eight, was sup 
posed to have been murdered by 
Jews at Lincoln in 1255 

Hulle: Hull, seaport on east coast 
of England 

humanitee : kindness F. 

humblely : humbly 

humblesse : humbleness 

humour sb. element or quality. 
Ancient medicine was based up 

on Galen's idea of the four ele 
ments: earth, air, fire, and 
water, and the four humours or 
qualities: hot, cold, dry, moist. 
A man's temperament depended 
upon the combinations of these 
qualities. Sickness was supposed 
to result from an excess of one 
or more of these. Each part of 
the body could be affected; thus 
the liver might have an excess 
of hot, or of dry, or of both 
OF humor 

humylitee : humility 

hunderede : hundred 

hungir: hunger AS hungor 

hunte sb. huntsman; huntys pi. 
AS hunta m. 

hunten inf. hunt AS huntian 

huntere : hunter 

hunteresse : huntress 

huntynge: hunting 

hurte 3 pt. s. hurt; cf. OF hurter 

hurtelyn 3 pr. pi hurtle, drive, 
dash ; hurtleth 3 pr. s. < 
"hurt" -f- frequentative -le 

hurtes pi. hurts 

hust pp. hushed 

huwes sb. color AS hlw 

hy, hye a. lofty 

hyde inf. hide ; hydestow 2 pr. s. 
AS hydan 

hyderward: in this direction 

hye sb. haste < AS higian 

hye inf. hasten, hie ; imp. ; hyed 
pt. pi. AS higian 

hyene : hyena, the gall of which 
was a cure for weak eyes OF. 

hyer a. higher, upper ; hadde the 
hyer hond] gained the victory 

hyeste: highest 

hyeweye : highway 

hyght pp. called; cf. hete 

hylde pt. s. bent AS hyldan 

hym dat. of reference 

hynd: hind, doe AS hind f. 

hyndre inf. hinder, interfere with 
AS hindrian 

hyndreste a. hindermost 

hyne sb. hind, farm-hand AS 
hina m. 

hyng 3 pt. s. hung; cf. hangyn 

hypes: hips AS hype 




hyre sb. hire, pay ; sette to hyre] 

sub-let to another AS hyrian 
hyre : their 
hyred pp. hired 

I, ik pers. pron. I ; common pre 
fix of pp. ; cf. Y 

ibenched: couched < AS benc 

iboundyn pp. bound AS bunden 

ibroke pp. broken AS brocen 

ibroudede : embroidered OF broude 

icorounede pp. crowned OF. 

ido pp. done, ended ; cf. don 

Idus: Ides, 15 March Lat. 

ifounded pp. founded, set AS 

ignoraunce: ignorance OF. 

i-halowed : view-hallooed (of hert) 
OF halloer 

ik pers. pron. I 

iknyt pp. knit, bound AS cnyt- 

ilke: same, very AS ilca 

illusioun: illusion OF. 

iloryn pp. lost AS loren < 

Ilyoun: Ilion or Ilium, the Greek 
name for Troy, is used by Chau 
cer as though it were not the 
same place. This is probably 
because in Guido delle Colonne 
Ilion is used as the name of the 
citadel of Troy 

imaginacioun : imagination OF. 

imakid pp. made AS macod < 

impertinent: not appertaining OF. 

importable: unendurable OF. 

impressioun : remembrance OF. 

in sb. inn AS inn, in 

in conseil : secretly OF. 

In principio : The friars constantly 
quoted the text, "In principio 
erat verbum," "in the beginning 
was the word," John i. 1, as 
they went from house to house 

In principio mulier est hominis 
confusio: Woman, from the be 
ginning, has been man's ruin 
(Vincent of Beauvais, Speculum 
Historiale X. 71) 

in the gilt: at fault 

inclinacioun : inclination, tendency 
due to natal star OF. 

incubus: sprite, fiend Lat. 

Inde: India OF. 

indulgence: permission OF. 

inequal: unequal; houre inequal] 
the astrological hours varied 
with the time of year, the period 
of daylight being always divided 
into twelve hours Lat in- 

infect a. invalid A 320 The 
sergeant could clear up any 
tangles or limitations in the title, 
and transfer the property in fee 
simple Lat. 

infecte inf. infect Lat infectus 

infeere a. together in -f- AS 

infortunat a. carrying misfortune 
Lat infortunatus 

infortune: misfortune OF. 

iniquitee sb. evil OF. 

inmortal: immortal OF. 

inne prep, in 

inned pp. provided inns, lodged 

Innocent III: 1161-1216, Pope 

inome pp. taken AS genomen 

inow, inowh : enough AS genoh 

inportable : insufferable, unbearable 

inpossible : sb. an impossibility OF. 

inquisityf: i